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
- 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?
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.
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.
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.
Use the opportunity of a garage sale to purge your closet
Summer is a great time to consider clearing out the debris from your garage and making room! A garage sale is a great way to make some extra cash and clear out lots of unneeded/unwanted items.
- Clear out needed space & make some money!
- Opportunity to connect and socialize with neighbors and your community
- Feel good seeing your objects go directly to new owners
- Several hours work to gather items, prepare and hang signs, hold the sale, clean up
- May not make much money
- Will likely have leftovers that you’ll have to donate or dispose
- Enlist friends and family to help out – they can add their items into the sale to make the sale more varied and appealing to buyers
- For multi-family sales decide ahead of time how you’ll track who made what
- Stock a fanny pack or cash box with at least $20 in small bills to make change for early shoppers
- Make clear, simple signs (with arrows!) and post at major intersections near the sale
- Post the sale online on www.Craigslist.com, www.WeekendTreasure.com, www.NextDoor.com or other local event listings, 1-2 days ahead of time—include pictures of what you have to sell, if you can.
- Don’t bother trying to sell worn-out or dirty items, but you could have a “FREE” box for items that aren’t saleable.
- When setting your prices be clear about your goal for the sale – maximize the $$ made or just move out stuff? Price accordingly!
- Pre-pricing takes time but can save some effort during the sale and make things easier for customers
- Save big expensive items for craigslist, people shopping garage sales are looking for deals and usually not carrying a lot of cash.
- Place large items out front
- Group like items together as much as possible
- Use folding tables to make browsing easier
- Hang shirts/dresses/jackets if possible
- Create a container of small $.25 items and label it clearly – this can keep kids busy while parents shop
Deal With The Leftovers
- Advertise on your local FreeCycle.com or Craigslist that everything past 3 pm on your last day of the sale will be free and sitting in the driveway or at the curb
- Have some empty grocery bags or boxes ready for clean-up time to immediately create donation bags
- Pre-schedule a donation pick-up from a local charity for the week following the sale (www.DonationTown.org)
Imagine the possibilities!
Does all this overwhelm you? Hire an organizer or just call 1-800-Got-Junk!
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!
The options for cord and cable management are many and tangled. We’ve tried many over the years and all have some useful features and some drawbacks. Often, I see clients going back to the old stand-by – the trashbag twist-tie!
The Cable Keeper is a new twist on the old problem. I can’t say it’s going to solve every cord issue but it’s definitely worth a mention.
Basically it’s a colored fabric sleeve with sewn in wire that you slide the cord into. The flexible wire allows you to fold and manage the cord anyway necessary to create a solid bundle instead of a tangle or sloppy mess. Multiple cords can fit in one sleeve if desired.
The color varieties give you the option to use color to identify different types of devices or whose cords are who’s in a family.
- Wire structure gives all kind of folding flexibility
- Lots of colors available for color-coding
- Simple to load and use
- Adds a fair bit of bulk to the cord
- Folded cord isn’t as compact as with some other management tools
Gotta product you want to see reviewed by us? Let us know?
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®.
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.