Tag Archives: family

What Really Happens to All Those Donations?

thrift store (1)

Ever wonder what really happens to all those clothes, household items and furniture you drop off at Goodwill or other thrift stores? The mystery is revealed in Adam Minter’s new book, Secondhand.

After going through the experience of clearing out his family home after his mother’s passing, Adam Minter, who has researched and written extensively about recycling, realized this topic of what happens to all our donated goods needed exploring. He spent time in different Goodwills, secondary recyclers, and with senior move managers to follow the trails from start to finish.  Fresh Air with Terry Gross had a wonderful interview with him talking about his research.

A few points from the interview:

  • Large heavy furniture isn’t very donatable
  • Clothes that can’t sell make their way to a secondary market for rags and furniture stuffing
  • Don’t buy inexpensive goods where avoidable, they don’t last and therefore aren’t high enough quality to re-sell
  • A lot of donations that don’t sell and don’t have a secondary market go to landfill

We can do our part for the environment by living with less. We can limit the outflow of our goods by buying quality items and keeping them until they actually wear out, not just until we tire of them. Reduce, Reuse, then Recycle!

Secondhand book

 

Fresh Air

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5 Ways to Manage Your Holidays

 

Holiday OrganizingIf you regularly have a lot going on in life, the added tasks of the holidays can wreak havoc on your time management. Shopping, hosting, holiday cards, parties, travel…where does the time come from to fit everything in?

Time Estimating

One of the biggest traps of time management is magical thinking around how long tasks will take. An easy rule of thumb is to estimate how long a task will take then double it! If you end up with time on your hands you’ll have no trouble filling it.

Be realistic about your schedule. Some things have to give to make room for the extra tasks of the holidays. Time isn’t going to magically appear in your calendar. Be vigilant about passing on opportunities that arise that don’t help your goal of having a wonderful holiday. That could mean saying “no” to the 7th Christmas party invitation!

Simplify Your Task List

There are many ways to enjoy your holidays and some are less time consuming than others. For example, if you realize it will take you 10 hours to put together holiday cards (including addressing, stamping and getting them to the mailbox) you may choose to do something simpler – or choose a different time of year to reach out and connect. Remember your original desire to make connections with family and friends. Realize there are many ways to do that.

Other time saving examples:

  • Store-bought food instead of homemade
  • Pot-luck instead of full hosting
  • E-cards instead of mailed cards
  • Gift bags and tissue instead of gift wrapping

Don’t Go It Alone

It’s easy to feel like we are solely responsible to make a memorable and magical experience for our loved ones. That can be pretty unrealistic and overwhelming. Have a look at your task list and see how you can share the load:

  • Where can the kids participate?
  • Can you invite a friend to work with you- baking or gift wrapping?
  • Is there cleaning or errands you delegate or actually hire out?

Where possible, focus your time and energy on the tasks you really enjoy and figure out how to get help with the others.

Learn from holidays past

Think back on what worked before.  Was there a year where you breezed through the holiday with ease?  What worked?

If there was a season that went poorly, you felt more stressed, you didn’t enjoy the celebrations – ask yourself, “What could you do to avoid those pitfalls?”

You could jot notes and track how long it actually took to: prepare for a party, to do the gift shopping, to pick out clothes to wear to the gala, to find the best gifts for your friends and family or to determine which character you’ll come as to the Dickens Faire.  These estimates could provide a template for happy holidays to come.

Balance

Holidays can be a time when life gets out of balance. In order to make more time in our schedules we often sacrifice personal time for exercise or re-charge. Make it a priority to plan in time for self-care so you can give the gift that really matters – yourself!

Taking this time to practice time management can help you in the rest of your life!

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Filed under General Organizing, Holidays, Strategies, Time Management

Lego Reuse Made Easy!

lego

Toys in general can be a challenge to donate as many thrift stores don’t take them. Now, according to Joan Verdon of Forbes Magazine, parents can add one more resource for re-purposing one of the most popular toys – Lego.

Lego has launched a pilot program, Lego Replay, that lets you print out a free shipping label and send back used Lego’s. Lego’s partner in the pilot, Give Back Box, will receive, clean, sort and repackage the Legos for delivery to Teach for America and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston. The pilot program will run through spring of 2020 and hopefully be expanded to other countries.

Other toy recycling options:

  • Toy consignment
  • Lego Reseller Bricks & Minifigs
  • Posting for free on your neighborhood email group
  • Donate to after-school programs

Read the full Forbes article here.

To continue the cycle of re-use, consider procuring your upcoming holiday gifts through consignment stores or online postings!

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

6 Tips for Creating an Effective Homework Space

Study Habits

As Professional Organizers, we’ve literally been inside thousands of people’s homes, many of those families with school-age kids. One of the most common things we hear from parents is the frustration about having added a desk into their kid’s room for homework but then the desk ends up covered in stuff — clutter, toys, collectibles — and is used for everything EXCEPT homework!

We consulted Educational Coach, Lorina Daves Tornai, to identify the ideal components of a homework space. Here is what she shared:

Number 1

Keep screens out of the bedroom and in a common area to allow for casual supervision.

Number 2

Create a dedicated work space if possible, rather than use a common table like the dining room table.

  • Set against a wall with a stationery chair (rolling chairs turn into toys!)
  • Ideally long enough so an adult can sit with them to help when needed
  • A 2’ x 4’ folding table can be ideal, multiple tables can be put together for large projects
  • Small wooden desks are too limiting and kids outgrow them

    2 x 4' folding table - adjustable height

    This 2′ x 4′ folding table is height-adjustable and is available at ULINE for $79

Number 3

Create space for basic supplies near the table – a rolling drawer unit works well to hold pencils, markers, scissors, scotch tape, paper.

Number 4

Magazine Files work really well for managing handouts and work in progress so paper doesn’t end up in stacks on the desk.magazine file

Number 5

Have visual and auditory aids to help with certain subjects.

  • Children’s dictionary with pictures and other reference books provides a tactile experience
  • Map of the world and of the US (laminated) helps them visualize geography
  • Wall calendar supports their understanding of days of week
  • Analog clocks support their ability to tell time
  • Using a clock or timer to split their time between different subjects teaches good time management
  • A 12 x 18 whiteboard with markers in the workspaceenables kid and parent to brainstorm/key words/map out stuff prior to actual writing process. Also useful for working out math problems.

Number 6

Make sure they eat before they do homework– protein is better than cookies…feeds the brain and provides sustained energy.  Think less bread, more nuts and cheese.

Back to that messy room desk covered in tidbits – that cluttered desk may be a symptom of a different need for your child – creative and display space! Is there dresser top, or bookshelf, or display shelves, or all 3 where they can lay out their collections and trinkets? Oftentimes the desktop ends up being the only space where they get to express their personality and show off their special objects.

Creating a intentionally designed homework space helps both the parent and the child take schoolwork seriously, supporting a lifelong habit of organization and growth.

 

Lorina Daves Tornai

Lorina Daves Tornai owner of Solutions for Learning, is an experienced tutor and dyslexia specialist with over twelve years of professional experience helping students ages 5 to adult in Reading, Writing, Spelling and Math.

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Filed under children, Decluttering, homework, Kids, School

5 Solutions For Bike Storage

wall storage from the Container Store

 

We love our bikes. But wouldn’t you love to use the real estate that your bike is taking up for something else?  Here are some options to storing your bike(s) that keep them tidy and out of the way. We hope these creative options inspire you to better integrate bike storage into your space, whether it be in your garage or your living space.

Walls

Bikes can hang by the tires perpendicular to the wall or can hang by the frame. Some wall mounts even pivot to the side so you can tuck your bike close to the wall. Check out Steady Rack.

SteadyRack

This system by DaHANGER mounts the bikes by the pedals. The bikes tilt away from the wall.

DaHANGER cycle storage

This system by MonkeyBars incorporates bike racks into their options for garage storage. (Note that this fits 4 bikes because they are staggered; 2 are hung by their back wheels which is harder to lift.)

Monkey Bars Bike Rack solution

Freestanding

No need to use a wall when you utilize tension poles. This pole, made by RAD Cycle Products can be adjusted to suit the height of your space.

These truly freestanding racks made by DeltaCycle are called “gravity stands.”  They can accomodate 2 or 4 bikes.

DeltaCycle Canaletto Free-Standing

 

Ceiling

Hang bikes from the ceiling and maximize your floor space. You can use simple hooks or pulley systems. This system is made by RAD Cycle Products

Ceiling hooks are another way to go.  This family stores multiple bikes on the ceiling of their high garage using simple utility hooks.

Floor Storage

Simple Floor racks like this one made by Swagman create a dedicated parking space so bikes don’t inadvertently end up in front of other things. Good as a last resort or for young children’s bikes so they can easily get them out themselves.

Do you have a great solution that’s working in your garage? Send us a picture!

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Filed under Decluttering, Garage, Kids, organizing, Products, Storage, Strategies

Destressing Your Move: Phase 2 – Start Packing

packing boxes Nina Garman from Pixabay

The first phase of moving was “planning ahead.” Now – at least 4 weeks from move day – it’s time to get into action. Packing and letting people (and companies) know your plans constitutes the bulk of this phase.

Picture this – the moving truck is pulling away from your new home. You’re worn out from the weeks leading up to the move.  You open up a random box and are faced with all kinds of mixed-up items that now have to be sorted and then figure out where they live. That takes lots of energy and time you probably won’t have – Ugh! Now multiply that feeling by the tens of boxes you have in every room! Yikes!

Make a Packing Timeline – Spend the time and energy before the move taking care to weed your possessions and decide where things will eventually live. That way, you can pack and label the boxes accordingly. 

There’s an analogy that a move is like a ball rolling downhill – the closer you get to move day the faster time will be flying by. And before you know it, you’re just throwing things into boxes (if you’re lucky) in order to be ready in time. Plan out a schedule for completing the major packing in each room and allow for a full extra week to catch up on all the things you didn’t plan for.

Get Supplies – If you do any of the packing yourself, you’ll have to gather supplies.  Since the boxes are bulky and can take over your house, dedicate space to store them so they won’t get in the way.

  • Places such as Home Depot and U-Haul offer online box ordering with easy “kits” for different size moves that you can customize.
  • Buy rolls or boxes of packing paper; don’t rely on finding enough newspaper for padding delicate items. Large bubble wrap is often more useful than the small bubble wrap for medium to large items. And don’t buy cheap packing tape – it isn’t worth the hassle when it constantly breaks on your tape gun.
  • Have a dedicated small box or basket and fixed location where you always keep your critical packing supplies: markers, post-its, packing tape, tape gun, utility knife.

Begin with the End in Mind

  • Whether you’ve decided to pack yourself or hire packing help, it’s essential to segregate items you’re taking with you into “like” groups to make packing and unpacking.  This is why it is helpful to start with an organized home. If you have pared down what you own so that you only have items you need to bring with you, there’s minimal decision-making come packing time.
  • Make sure you label your boxes with the destination in your new home, i.e., master bedroom, downstairs bath, laundry area, for example. Consider labeling some boxes “UNPACK FIRST” for each room.
  • It can help to have an inventory sheet with the box number and contents if the unpacking will happen over time or if your boxes will be sitting in storage for a time.
  • Pace Yourself – Packing can be exhausting! Take breaks, plan your meals, be realistic about how long you can work each day. Ask for help if you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed.

moving day kit

Let People (and Companies) Know

  • Contact your utility companies on both ends of the move and make arrangements to transfer or cancel your service on the date you hand over possession of your home
  • In addition to the utility companies, make a check-list of the people/companies who send you mail: Banks, Insurance Companies, Medical Providers. Don’t forget to include:
  • Consider sending out “We’re Moving” cards with your new address to your friends and family.
  • Ask the new homeowners to forward any mail that slips through the USPS system and comes to your old address.

The Goal Is This…

You walk into your new home, energized and ready to get to work … every room has clearly labeled boxes of the items that belong in that room, the labels let you know which boxes you want to unpack first. When you open a box, you can efficiently put things away because you know where they’re going. Bonus if you have helpers it’s easy to direct them because the boxes are all well packed, labeled, and organized!  Next post – Moving Day.

Moving Day Comfort Item

Make sure you don’t leave any special things behind!

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Filed under Decluttering, downsizing, home organizing, Moving, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies

De-Stressing Your Move: Phase 1 – Planning Ahead

planning for a move

It’s been said that moving is one of the top 5 most stressful life events –

  • Death of a loved one
  • Divorce
  • Moving
  • Major illness or injury
  • Job loss

And often moving must happen because of one or more of these life events!

While there’s no way to make moving completely stress-free, with some forethought you can keep the move manageable. There’s a lot to cover so we’re going to talk about moving in three phases:

  1. Planning Ahead
  2. Start Packing
  3. Moving Day & Beyond

Plan Ahead & Start Early

This is probably the biggest key to managing the stress of a move. Having enough time to organize all the moving parts (pun intended) and stay on top of details keeps you feeling in control. Often the timeline of a move will feel like a ball rolling downhill, picking up momentum and going faster and faster – the closer you get to move date the shorter each day will feel!

  • Ideally, a minimum of 2 months before your move schedule movers and start to tackle problem areas, room by room.
  • Decide if how much packing and moving you’re doing yourself vs. hiring help. If you’re going the DIY route, allow for more time. If you’re hiring packing help, you’ll need to pre-sort things to avoid having boxes of mixed-up stuff to untangle at the new home.
  • Moving isn’t inexpensive! If you hire help for packing and moving, even for a local move, expect to pay a few thousand dollars. Hiring help can be well worth the value. With someone to schlep boxes, you’ll be able to focus your energy on decision making rather than physically wearing yourself out.
  • Know the limits of your new space and let that guide your purging, especially for items such as photos, memorabilia and books. Floor planning ahead of time gives you the exact reality of what will fit in your space. You want to make sure the available storage will hold whatever you bring.
  • Honor your own limits of time and energy for combing through these things in order to weed the collections.
  • Think about what to do with everything you won’t be taking with you. Decide if you want to sell anything via a garage sale, estate sale or online. Identify local donation places and find out if they do pickups. You will have leftovers that can’t be donated; identify haulers or find out your city’s policy on bulky pickups as part of your trash service.

This first phase of moving is all about getting a handle on the big picture and getting through as much of the sorting and purging as possible.

Even if you’re not moving now and just considering it for the future, the process of sorting through things and paring down will make you more nimble if and when you decide to move.

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Filed under Decluttering, home organizing, Moving, organizing, Perspective, professional organizer, Seniors, Time Management