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Rise Above Your Chaos and Soar to Freedom

How much value does your valuables hold

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In my line of work, as a Professional Organizer, I get to witness firsthand the deepest lows in people’s lives and have the privilege of seeing their greatest highs also. When I get that initial phone call from a new client it is usually triggered by an acceptance of the fact that they cannot live like this anymore. They acknowledge at this point that something has to change and reach out to me for accountability in helping them implement some kind of system to reach this goal.

  • I first implement a plan by equipping my new client with a vision for that room. A dining room drowning in paperwork and miscellaneous items has lost its usefulness and if the client’s desire is to have the family gather around the dining room table then they need to claim that vision back for that room.
  • I then help group like items into piles and then figure out what needs to be tossed, recycled, given away, and kept. We discard the broken, the unused, the ugly, multiples items, and out of date.
  • The final groups of like items then need to be housed somewhere. I call this “finding a home for each item”. It will be the place you store the item and once the item is used, it is immediately placed back in its home. If the item does not have a home, then it needs to go, no matter what its value may hold.

At this point things begin to really get difficult for the client and they may start exhibiting signs of being upset, anxious or even argumentative about what they consider valuable and wish to hold on to.

The dictionary definition of valuable is as follows:

val·u·a·ble
valy(əw)əb(ə)l/
noun
plural noun: valuables
a thing that is of great worth, especially a small item of personal
property.

Here are three types of personalities whom I see most frequently and whom have very different perspectives of what a valuable is:

Client # 1: A client’s definition of valuable may be completely different to the above definition and to this person something valuable could be anything from small pieces of paper, to plastic bottles, or even a rusty screw. They equate their perceived usefulness of the object as valuable. My job at this point would be to help the client refocus on their initial vision for the room and then reset their thinking patterns on what a valuable truly is. It should be something that is displayed with honor and is truly appreciated and protected from damage. If the monetary value is too great, it is then preserved and locked away in a safe. The client will then at this point try to reset my thinking patterns as to their way of thinking and give me 100 uses for their valuable. To which my reply is that those 100 uses for their valuables are the 100 things that will prevent them from reaching their vision for that room. This conversation then cycles back again to what their vision is for that room and what needs to be done to acquire that end result. This cycle happens periodically and although it is time consuming, it is a very important conversation that helps the client to change their way of thinking and help them maintain their home in the future.

Client # 2: The other type of client I encounter is the person who actually does have a lot of valuables in the sense of true monetary and sentimental value.  These clients are looking at the objects’ emotional and monetary worth rather than it’s functional worth. They do one of two things, they either refuse to part with something because of this value or they agree to sell it but set such an impractical price that ensures that the object will never be able to find a new home. I then have to assist them in the basic principles of depreciation. Spending a lot of money ten years ago on an item such as a computer would have little or no financial benefit what so ever and to try and recoup about 50% or even 25% of what you paid for it would be ludicrous. This conversation usually requires a different approach than the previous technique I used. I need to persuade the client that just because this valuable holds significant value to them, it does not have the same significance or appeal to other people that would warrant such a price tag. Once you enter the USED MARKET you have to have a competitive price tag. A typical comeback argument will be: “If I cannot get my price, then I will just hang on to it then.”  Whether this is a subconscious approach to not part with their things, I do not know. But what I do know is that these valuables that do not have a “home” within their home, have taken preference over their value of life and family life. Their valuables essentially hold more value and mean more to them than the quality of their life and their family life. This is by no means a conscious effort on their part as they are blissfully unaware of the ongoing cost that their valuables have on them. This information when communicated is hard to hear but vital in helping them to reclaim their lives back.

Client #3: Entering this client’s home is like entering a time warp. Some emotional upset occurred whether it was a divorce, a death, financial loss or a downgrade in their home and/or lifestyle. They usually suffer from depression and cope by shutting down or disengaging from a situation. I cannot tell you how many clients I have encountered that have moved 3 to 5 years previously and are still living out of a few boxes, with most of their things still packaged away for when they do move again. Their intention is that their current situation is not permanent.  Unfortunately what has taken place in the meantime, while they are awaiting this big change, is that they have just shut down and stopped living. Everything rests on the future and no living is done in the present. To this client, nothing holds any value to them at all. Their possessions are shut away in storage or in the garage for when their circumstances change. These are the very same possessions that would normal clutter another client’s home, but in their case would go a long way in making their home more homely. My conversation with this client would be to help them firstly see the value in themselves. They hold value and deserve a second chance to start living and regaining control of their life and living their dreams. This client has most times shut the outside world out and has not been able to host friends for fear of shame and hurt. In this case we would start implementing a vision of the potential of hosting friends and family. I would then assist the client by building a home worthy of his/her value by unpacking some boxes and bringing out some personal items. A few pictures on the walls, turning furniture into a cozier layout, and picking up and clearing out what no longer is required begins to set the stage for a cozy home. As the home gains a more personal touch then very often the client begins to heal and as the client heals the home becomes even more homely.

No matter what the circumstances are, I have learned over time that no situation is unique. A man or woman hesitating to reach out for help from a Professional Organizer may be inclined to think that their situation is particularly bad and therefore feel particularly ashamed. My question to you is this, if you were sick and needed some medical attention, then you would see a doctor. When needing assistance with your lawn, you would call a landscaper. Electrical issues require an electrician and plumbing disasters require a plumber etc. Each professional you call has gained experience and will also admit to the fact that no situation is unique. If you need help decluttering, reorganizing, storage ideas and implementing different systems that work for you then call a Professional Organizer to help you get the job done. A Professional Organizer can give you impartial advice on how much value your valuables truly hold.

Pulling off the Holidays without a Glitch

IMG_1724As the holiday season rapidly approaches, I recall a quote by Michael Altshuler a popular motivational sales speaker: “The bad thing is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” We all have varying degrees of organizational skills. To some people these skills come naturally but to others it may entail a little more effort and even some training. Wherever you may fall on this scale, please be reassured that at this stage, time is still on your side and given basic guidelines you will be able to pull off the holiday season without a glitch.

  1. Make Lists & Set Deadlines: 

    Make a list for every possible scenario that will arise in the next couple of months and create a breakdown of tasks and deadlines for each task. e.g.

    • Gifts
    • Holiday/Christmas Cards
    • Travel Plans
    • School Activities
    • Church Events
    • Decorations and Food
  2. Taking Stock: 

    You will need to make sure that you have everything for every event well in advance. Don’t wait until Thanksgiving morning to realize that you threw away your turkey roasting pan the year before. Frantically running around looking for open stores, like a headless turkey on Thanksgiving morning, is not a fun way to start your holiday.

    • Determine that you have enough holiday and table decorations. If they are not organized according to the seasons, then organize them in color and labeled bins in advance. This will speed up your unpacking and packing time dramatically as each season changes.
    • Ensure you have enough linen especially if you plan to have guests sleep over in the guest room.
    • Check all your cooking equipment, recipes, spices, and tableware well ahead of your big meals.
    • If you do not bake very often, then you will need to verify that your ingredients like flour, sugar, and baking powder have not expired.
    • Double check that you have included everybody on your gift list and card list and even have some back up gifts and cards for the unexpected. This may save you possible embarrassment.
  3. Prevent Last Minute: 

    There are a number of things that you can do well in advance which can take off the pressure that usually arises from leaving everything till the eleventh-hour.

    • Create a gift zone in your home for gift storage and wrapping and try to spread out your purchases and wrapping over the next couple of months.
    • Try not to do any holiday shopping on the first and second Saturday in December or the week preceding Christmas.
    • Fall is also a good time for general de-cluttering as you purge and restock your pantry and go through your ornaments and linens.
    • Attempt to thoroughly deep clean your home a couple of weeks in advance to you hosting any holiday function. This will prevent last-minute panic and will leave you with minor cleaning to do a day in advance.
    • Endeavor to get your guest room ready, ahead of time, with fresh linens and make sure that all your personal items are out of the room.
  4. Invitations:

    Limit the number of invites, you and your family attend, as you are already spread so thinly over this season.

    • Don’t attend out of obligation only accept the invites that have some significance towards you and your family.
    • Arrange a potluck if you are hosting a holiday party. It creates a nice variety of dishes, takes a lot of stress off of you, and your guests won’t mind as they are only too pleased that you are the one hosting and not them.
  5. Ask for Help:

    Don’t hesitate to call in the troops if the going gets too tough.

    • Choose a Cleaning Service to help deep clean your home in advance.
    • Call a Professional Organizer, such as myself, to help put things in perspective and offer some support.

Time…Slips through my Hands

Time-slips-through-your-hands

If at times you feel like a hamster on a treadmill always on the go but nothing to show for it. Your time feels like a perpetual cycle of events to you. Nothing exciting ever takes place and there is not enough personal time for you! Chances are, you probably need help organizing your time to prevent time from slipping through your hands.

  1. Time Management: Before implementing any plan of action, start by keeping track of a Time Activity Log for a week. Keep track of every hour of the day and what you are attending to during that time. You can either use a spreadsheet for doing this or download a free App such as Toggl. Keep track of how much TV you watch, how much driving you do, how long you work on your IPad etc.  Log these daily summaries into a Time Activity Summary. By the end of the week, you will be able to see a pattern emerging that will give you an idea of where your time is predominantly wasted or perhaps an area in your life that maybe requires more time. If you choose to use the Toggl App, be aware of the changes in your schedule. On one particular occasion, I forgot to switch off an activity and to resume another and my Time Summary indicated that I had showered for close to three hours.
  2. Make Lists and Prioritize: Now that you are aware of your wasted time, you need to make daily lists and rate the activities within those lists. Try and determine which of the tasks on your list flow together well, this will also prevent you from fluttering around like a butterfly from one random activity to another. Check each task off as you complete it. You will begin to feel a sense of relief as you draw near to the end of your list and closer towards reaching your daily goal.
  3. Stay Focused on the Task at Hand: If you watch a TV show like Master Chef, where they motor through an appointed task 100% focused and are able to produce a masterpiece within a short time frame. They don’t stop to check their face book or to twitter. Shut out the outside world. Check caller ID and answer only the important calls, the rest can go straight to voicemail.
  4. Learn to say NO: Unfortunately whether you are in an office at work, running a small business or a stay at home mom. There will always be people wanting to take advantage of your skills or your time. If you are always the “go to” mom for babysitting; or the one relieving a sick staff member; or even find people wanting you to do things for free, then you need to learn to say NO at times. Your time is valuable and people taking advantage of that concept are not being considerate to you and you are not doing them a favor. They are using and abusing you if it is a regular occurrence.
  5. Establish a Functional System: If your system is not working well for you then you need to try tackling things in a different way. Sometimes it is easier to start again, than fix a broken system. Once you use this system for a while, then it will become habitual within time.
  6. Create a Family Control System: Keep your keys hung up on a key hook in this area. You will save a lot of time that ordinarily would be used for hunting down keys in the morning before work; Also make sure to have a message board; pin board and calendars in this area. This will help keep your schedule from any conflicts and keep you engaged with ongoing family activities.  Always leave earlier than your estimated time of arrival for an appointment as you need to always consider traffic jams, getting lost; making all the red lights.
  7. Take Care of Yourself: Get up and move around and take small breaks; you need to make sure that you eat and sleep well; remember to treat yourself to some relaxing pleasurable moments as a reward after a long day. For me, it is taking a dip in the pool.
  8. Organizing in Advance: Plan your meals for the entire week in advance and big shopping trips instead of multiple small trips. Another way to get a head start in the day is if you have made all the children’s lunches in advance and all back packs packed the night before.
  9. Nip Small Jobs in the Bud: Pick up after yourself and your family (if necessary) as you enter and exit a room. Don’t leave it and allow the clutter to grow and become a time-consuming job.
  10. Treat yourself Fairly: Everyone is fallible and if you slip up or don’t meet a goal, give yourself a break. Delegate where you can allowing yourself to relinquish control over to another party.

Once you become accustomed to following these 10 easy steps hopefully your mind will adjust from ‘Time Slipping through your Hands’ to rather capturing ‘Time in a Bottle.’

Organizing your Bathroom

blue-bathroomA bathroom is one of those places that can instantly reflect your personality and give you a charming haven depending on the mood you wish to create. This you can do through the color choice of towels and other decorative items you may choose for your bathrooms makeover. Even some very basic organizational items can change the entire mood of the room.

  1. Drawers and Cupboards
  • Go through all of your drawers and cupboards and remove all of your items in these places.
  • Throw away expired makeup and medicine from the cabinets.
  • Clean all of your brushes.
  • Move medicines to another part of the house if possible. The humidity in a bathroom is not the ideal environment for storing your medicines.
  • Get rid of any items that you no longer require.
  • Sort and group all of your like items together and take note of what organizational items you may need to purchase to organize them.
  • Drawer Organizers are great for separating makeup and hair items.
  • Lazy Susan’s are great for under counter hidden areas that are difficult to reach.
  • Use baskets for personal items that you do not want lying loose in the cupboard.
  • If you are low on storage space one could buy an organizer Cart for extra drawer space and store under or next to a bathroom sink.
  • Canvas Storage bins are great for extra towels that you may wish to store on open shelving.
  1. Counter Space
  • Clear everything from your counter and decide what items are too old or no longer required.
  • Keep all make up brushes grouped together in an attractive upright container.
  • Invest in some clear containers for storage of all disposable items such as cotton swabs and ear buds. The clear containers make replacement of disposable items easy.
  • For older children I like to always encourage the use of a counter caddy, for basic daily hygiene. In this caddy, I include a brush; a tooth-brush and toothpaste inside a cup; mouthwash; and deodorant. This visually reminds the  child or teen to apply deodorant, brush teeth and hair all at once, without you having to nag daily.
  1. Extra Bathroom Storage
  • Store extra toilet rolls in a tall wicker basket next to the toilet.
  • It is also a good idea to have a hanging organizer for all the bathroom essentials required inside the bath or shower.
  • Or if you prefer, you can also buy a hanging shower curtain with storage pockets for those items needed while showering.
  • You can also hang a hanging shoe rack at the back of the bathroom door for any further storage space you may need.
  • Over the door hooks also allow for extra hanging space.
  1. Daily Bathroom Maintenance

At first glance this to-do list may seem long. If however, one manages to complete each step, as you go through your bathroom routine, it saves a tremendous amount of time.

e.g. instead of dropping your towel on the floor; then later picking it up; and then having to hang it up, (3 actions) rather just hang it up directly after use (1 action.)

  • Place toilet roll on toilet roll holder.
  • Trash papers and disposable items immediately.
  • Make-up  placed away in its organizer, immediately after use.
  • Toothpaste cap placed firmly on the toothpaste and tooth-brush  rinsed and placed in an upright position.
  • Basin is also rinsed out after each use.
  • Keep a product such as “Clean Shower” in your shower and spray on the walls and the shower curtain directly after a shower. If your shower is clean to start with, then this product will maintain it, if used daily. The alcohol in the product helps to dissolve and remove all the oily human debris and the water residue.
  • Place toilet seat and lid down after each use.
  • Fill up your  soap bottles  for hand washing if necessary.
  • Hang up your towel, hand towel, and wash cloth after use.
  • Place laundry in the laundry basket before leaving the bathroom.
  1. Thorough weekly clean
  • Empty the bin and disinfect it.
  • Replace all the towels and wash cloths.
  • Spray and wipe down counters with a product like Formula 409.
  • Disinfect basins.
  • Wipe mirrors down with a window cleaner.
  • Sweep the floor.
  • Wash the bathroom mats.
  • Sterilize the top of the toilet tank storage, the top and bottom of the toilet seat, the toilet lid, behind the toilet seat, around the outside of the toilet bowel and inside the toilet bowl. (Lysol Disinfectant is a great product for disinfecting the inside of the toilet bowl and for getting rid of toilet rings.)
  • If you have not managed to use a product like “Clean Shower “daily, then you may have to wipe down the shower with a product.
  • End off by washing the bathroom floors.

Once you have handled the initial organizing of the bathroom, daily maintenance should become a habit by remembering the bathroom rules:

If you used it – hang it up
If it is on – turn it off
If it runs out – replace it
If it is dirty – clean it
If it is wet – dry it

Organizing your Garage

garage organizationDid you know that 25% of American Households, that have two car garages, are unable to park their car in the garage due to their clutter. That means that only 3 out of 4 families, with double garages, actually use their garage for the intended purpose. So if your car is currently sleeping outside, then this could be a message intended for you.

Most clients that I work with always keep the garage as their “GO-TO” place when they feel reluctant in purging a particular item from the home. This means that the garage becomes a storage ground for the broken, the old things, the homeless objects, & the excess paperwork. Have a careful look at your garage. How many of the items within that space are actually used? If you can safely say that within the last 6 months to a year, you have not used that object or needed it in any way, then the chances are that you are holding on to it at your cars expense.

  1. Clear Out: I usually place down 4 beacons, apart from each other, when I start the clearing and sorting process. The 1st one labeled “Recycling”, the 2nd labeled “Keep”, the 3rd labeled “Give Away” and the 4th labeled “Trash”. As I carry out each item from the garage, I place each item by the relevant beacon. Once I have finished this process, the entire garage should now be empty.
  2. Clean Up: Once everything is out of the garage, you will now need to get the entire family involved in the cleanup. You will have a lot of sweeping to do, cleaning up of spider webs, and washing the concrete down.
  3. Sort “Like” Items: Now go to the Keep pile (without revisiting the other piles) and start sorting all the keep items into like piles. E.g. Place all the garden supplies together.
  4. Create Zones: Once you have the like piles, it is now time to decide what you would like to do with them and create logical zones. E.g. a work bench station, toy zone, gardening zone, and of course a car zone.
  5. Purchase Storage: The storage ideas you come up with are absolutely crucial. Try not to focus totally on the floor space as that area is  for the parking of your car.
    • Open shelving units: Useful for stacking containers that one needs for seasonal items.
    • Wall Mounted Cabinets: This is crucial for Chemical Storage which is very dangerous for young children and pets.
    • Drawer Organizational Storage: Keep all your different size nuts; hooks; anchors; screws, & bolts separated for easy access.
    • Peg Boards: An excellent means to help store all the commonly used tools.
    • Tracks with hooks: Are an easy fix for hanging larger items such as folding chairs, a ladder, leaf blower, weed cutter, hedge trimmer and even bicycles.
    • Ceiling Storage: Mount shelving panels from the ceiling to store even more containers and items used less often such as Christmas Decorations etc.
    • Bike Rack or Wall Mounted Bike Hanger: Bikes can take up a lot of unnecessary space in the garage. So you may want to consider installing a bike rack or wall mounted hanger to free up a lot of the floor.
  6. Labeling: Remember to label each container, each cabinet and each drawer clearly for future use. This will make it easy to find something at a glance.

Clearing out and organizing a garage may seem overwhelming, but it needn’t be. If it is too much to tackle in one day, then break this up into smaller more manageable tasks. The result will be the same. Your car will now have a place to call home as well as every other item accounted for in the garage. View this Garage Video.

How to Organize your Vehicle

carFor some people, organizing their car may seem as difficult as organizing a home or an office, as they deal with the same organizational issues whether the space is large or small. The First dilemma that comes to mind is, where do you begin when organizing your car. Followed by how you will tackle the problem and finally how could you manage to keep up the organization within your vehicle once you get it organized.

Before you do anything to organize the interior of the car, you need to begin with a thorough de-cluttering of your vehicle:

  • Sort everything you have in your car into two bags –  A trash bag and an item bag.
  • Now go through the item bag and sort out how much of your items actually belong in the car.
  • Just like with house organizing, you will now need to find a “home” for every item in the car.
  • Don’t forget to sort through and organize the storage areas in your car such as the cup holders; consoles; side door pockets; built-in ashtrays; and door handles.

Here are some organizational ideas to help keep up an organized vehicle: –

  • Consider how you want to contain your trash in the future. I like to hang a small bag over my Charge outlet in my car. Or you can use a cereal container (place a bag in it) and pin it down with Velcro to prevent it from sliding all over the show. If neither of these ideas suits you, then you can also buy a hanging trash container that hangs behind the head rest of the front seats.
  •  A food caddy is vital for holding your food while on the go. You can either make use of an arts and craft holder/caddy which you can buy at the dollar store or you can pick up a more expensive option at any retail store or online.
  1. FRONT SEAT ORGANIZING:

    Glove Compartment – The most basic things you need to remember to place in your Glove Compartment is proof of insurance; Car Registration; Car Owners Manual; Vehicle Maintenance Log; Mobile phone Charger; and Garage door opener, if you do not have it manually set to your car.

    Visor organization – All those little items that you want at a moment’s notice are easily placed in a visor organizer. Items such as pens; sunglasses; charger; Tissues; etc.

    Paper organizer – Consider purchasing a plastic paper folder with labeled  compartments for different documents that are left in the car. I would place this in the side door pocket.

  2. 2ND AND 3RD ROW- SEAT ORGANIZING:

    There are plenty of choices available when it comes to passenger seat organizing. You can choose a back seat hanging organizer or an organizing caddy placed between your children. Place a few age relevant items in this container and it will help keep your young one’s busy on those long road trips or even a trip to grandma’s.If you have young children and want to keep up a neat car, then you may consider a back seat organizer combined with a kick mat. This prevents them from marking the back of your chairs with their constant leg extensions in a trip.

  3. TRUNK ORGANIZING:

    A grocery organizer is always nice to have in the trunk for those quick grocery purchases. Not only do they keep things upright and organized, they usually have insulation which keeps your groceries cool on a very hot day.If you have a very small trunk and battle to place all of your groceries in that small area, consider purchasing mini vehicle hangers. This allows you to store more groceries by hanging them from the back seat head rest. Now you can fit twice as many bags.Then finally you may want to invest in a small trunk organizer for in case of an emergency. This organizer may contain some first aid items; battery cables; flash light; ice scraper; Car sickness items; spare diapers etc.

A car that is neat and maintained on the inside will make driving long distances a lot less miserable and will give you a feeling of calm in spite of having to endure traffic. Enjoy your journey of organization.

Ten Simple Steps to Organizing your Kitchen

kitchen cabinetsWe all know the saying that “Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth” ….Well the same can also be said about a disorganized kitchen. To be able to plan, prepare and present a good meal to your loved ones, the kitchen organization is far too often over-looked as one of the key factors that allow this to happen. Here are some tips that will whip your kitchen into an inspirational space:

1.    Kitchen Work Triangle: Take note of the positioning of your fridge, sink, and oven. This is known as your Kitchen Work Triangle. Link these 3 work areas using an imaginary line. The efficiency of your kitchen depends on the proximity of these three items, allowing you to cut down on wasted steps. Now that you are aware of your Kitchen Work Triangle, it is worthwhile ensuring that you zone your designated cooking objects such as pots, pans, & bowls within this cooking and preparation area.

2.    Kitchen Tools: Remove all kitchen tools and group all like items together. Then while paying attention to your Kitchen Work Triangle, place each group of tools in an easy to reach drawer that will make your cooking area more efficient. In other words, store wooden spoons next to the stove for an easy reach from the stove area.

3.    Drawer Divisions: Equip each drawer with a drawer organizer which allows you to store all like items grouped in one partition. This will keep e.g. the bottle opener from getting lost among serving spoons etc. or whatever else you may have in that same drawer.

4.    Spice Racks: The biggest problem most of my clients struggle with, second to paperwork, is what to do about the large number of spices that they may have. First decide what storage option best suits you  – counter top, wall, upper cupboard, or drawer. Then browse through a website like Amazon and see the huge variety of items within that option. You will have many options  to choose from besides your traditional spice rack on the wall.

5.    Pot Lid Organizer: If you have limited space for your pots and pans, you may find it necessary, to place the pots inside each other instead of next to each other. This creates a problem for your pot lids, as they cannot be stored on top of each pot. Invest in a nice pot lid organizer attached to the inside of the cupboard where the pots are kept. If you have a shelf that cuts down on your inside door usage, then rather buy a rack that can lie next to your pots and have all your lids propped up like a dishwasher plate rack.

6.    Tupperware Lid Organizer:  Same as the Pot lid organizer. You can buy a device that can attach to the inside of your cupboard and have all of your lids grouped according to size. Or again you can store it in a rack inside your Tupperware cupboard (almost like a DVD rack lying down). Remember to group your containers together according to size as this will allow the containers to store a lot easier. If you store your Tupperware in a low cupboard, I would suggest storing it in a large basket or a large container. So that when you want to take out an item or place it back in the cupboard, you will not just throw it in because you are not in the mood to bend and sort. Instead remove the entire basket and sort out the Tupperware at counter level properly, before inserting the basket back in the cupboard.

7.    Declutter Counter Space: Try and limit the amount of items you have lying around the kitchen on the counter tops. A busy counter top not only appears cluttered and disorganized but also cuts down on valuable counter space. Try mounting your calendar, to do list, telephone etc. Also make use of pegs for potholders, dishtowels, and aprons. If you are handy, you could also attach a “swing-down cookbook rack” or a “retractable book stand” which looks like an easel that you can drop from the overhead cupboard and holds your recipe book securely at eye level for you to follow the recipe.

8.    Lazy Susan: I often work in kitchens that have what I like to call a “dead zone.” A corner unit in particular, has a large amount of space tucked away making it almost impossible to utilize that space. I like to place a large Lazy Susan or sometimes two, if there is an upper and a lower shelf, in this area. I am now able to maximize the space that is usually wasted in that “dead zone”.

9.    Basket Storage: Always gather up like items that do not have a place in a cupboard or in a drawer and store them in baskets placed neatly on an open shelf. These baskets look neat and when labeled they make it easy to find what you need.

10.  Shelf Organizers: Your average Target store holds a large array of different Shelf Organizers for your convenience. Ranging from Shelf Raisers for cans of food (which look like a set of stairs) to Shelf cubes, shelf inserts for separating different layers of dishes, or even under the shelf racks (which instantly gives you an extra shelf by clipping on to the fitted shelf above.) Remember to also make use of your valuable, under the sink, space by attaching an organizer to the door for bags or a rod to hang your spray bottles from.

Remember that these tips are merely guidelines to helping you become more organized in your kitchen. Allow for your personality and style to dictate what will work in your kitchen and how you will make use of it. No two kitchens, that I have worked in, have ever turned out the same. Yet they all end up functioning far more efficiently by implementing some of these ideas.View this Video on Pantry Organization

Happy Organizing!

General Organizational Tips: How to Get Started

DSCN1430Step 1: Visualize your Space in Advance

Stand back and look at the room you wish to declutter and transform.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • In an ideal world, what would this room look like?
  • What purpose would this room serve?

Once you have answered those questions and have a specific picture in your mind. That is your goal and the direction you will be moving in.

Many times in this process, you are going to want to give up. Every time that happens, you are to reflect back on the vision you have for that room. The only thing standing in the way of this becoming a reality, would be you and your mindset.

Step 2: Planning for the Process

 *(3 M’s Approach:Grace Jasmine & Jennifer James: “ Fabjob  Guide to become a Professional Organizer”)

I always look at three areas while I am planning to organize a room or an office. I focus on what I need to do to Minimize the clutter and then how can I Maximize the space for the client and finally how can I coach her to Maintain the system I have put in place.

Room or Area:  e.g. Closet

How can I Minimize?

1.Place all your clothing items in Like piles.

2.Discard the clothes that no longer fit. (Goodwill)

3.Discard the out – of – fashion clothes.

4.Discard the clothes you no longer use.

5.Discard torn or blemished clothes. (Throw away)

How can I Maximize?

1.Stand back and view the space and re-evaluate where everything goes.

2.Place all like colors together.

3.Place everyday items at an easily accessible level. (Eye level)

4.Make use of vacuum bags for out of season or seldom used items.

5.Make use of the back of a closet door for hanging jewelry or scarves.

6.Use baskets on high levels for grouped items seldom used.

How can I Maintain?

1.Each item in your closet should now have a place to call home.

2.Remember to always return items back to their spot after using it for the day. If not, the area where you left it scattered will become a gathering place for all miscellaneous items not returned to their homes. (5-10 minutes a day).

3.Label any baskets and if possible, label the shelf where the basket belongs.

4.Commit to a routine. E.g. Do a load of washing Tuesday & Saturday.

Step 3: Set a Realistic Time Frame for this Project

Idioms and Sayings that support this theory

1.”Rome wasn’t built in a day” is an idiom attesting to the need for time to create great things.

2.“Little strokes fell great oaks”  basically means that limited strength, when persistently applied, can accomplish great feats.

3.“When eating an elephant take one bite at a time” implies that this whole process is one big overwhelming obstacle. Take your focus off of the big task ahead of you and rather focus on the short-term goals and celebrate each small victory.

E.g. Start to declutter one area of the room or the closet and stick with that area. Once finished, stand back and enjoy the order in that corner and then move on to the next part of that room. Each little victory will come together to form that vision that you had for that space in Step 1.

Step 4: Make Yourself Accountable to Someone you can Trust

Part of the process is gaining support from those around you. Inform a close friend or family member of your intentions.

1.This person must have a proven record of being somewhat organized themselves.

2.This confidant must be able to call you out for failing to follow through with your decision to declutter and organize your home.

3.This close friend will be your very own cheerleader, coming along side you and celebrating your small achievements.

4.This companion will be the one that sits next to you and holds you and listens to you while you sob because of the overwhelming feelings of despair that take over periodically.

5.This same person will be the one that will not hesitate to roll up their sleeves and lead by example when you feel the need to give up.

6.If you are unable to let someone close come along side you, then you must consider hiring a Professional Organizer to aid in this process.

Step 5: Begin Today

  • Dieters know all to well that the best time to start a diet is on Monday. Except that in most cases, Monday gets put off until next Monday.
  • There is always a reason or an inconvenience that stands in the way of getting organized.
  • Begin organizing your home: One corner at a time/one shelf at a time/one cupboard at a time – Over time you will have a fully organized room which will eventually result in a completely reorganized home.
  • If you begin today, then by Thanksgiving you are further than you are now and at Christmas you are that much further than you were at Thanksgiving.
  • If you do not start today, then you will be in the same place by the time Thanksgiving comes around and no further by Christmas.
  • Today is the day to make any organizational changes in your home whether big or small.

How to Maintain an Organized Home

DSCN0957There are three aspects I always tackle when working with a client:

  1. Minimizing: The very first step is always sorting LIKE items together and then going through that pile of like items and cutting down on the clutter that my client may have accumulated over the years. I urge him/her to eliminate the unused, broken, ugly, and the unnecessary from each pile.
  2. Maximizing: Now it is up to me to aid the client by finding ways to maximize their space and to give them design ideas that will enhance their space in their home and make it more functional.
  3. Maintaining: Finally I have to equip each client with the tools to keep up their space long after I leave them. This is not always an easy task, but here are some great tips to help make the job that much easier.
    • I label all containers used in the pantry , children’s room, kitchen, office etc. I also label the place on the shelf where the containers are stored. So everything has a place to call home and all it takes is 5 minutes a day to place things exactly where they belong, instead of just placing it in a miscellaneous pile on your counter top.
    • Before going to bed in the evening make it routine to correctly place cushions, pick up shoes in the living area, and place that evening coffee mug in the dishwasher. Ensure that your counter tops are wiped down and clutter free and the sink is empty and ready for the morning rush. Walking into a clean kitchen and living room in the morning will result in you starting off your day with an “aaahhh feeling”.
    • Create a “Family Control Center” in your home as this will create a stress free way to manage routines and schedules. Pick a specific wall that is central to the home. This is usually the place that gathers the items as a go – between your home and your car. On this wall, be sure to have:
      • Key holder – so you never lose your keys.
      • Black or white board – to leave messages or reminders.
      • Chore charts for children.
      • Pin board for important notices with regards to school activities etc.
      • Small baskets for things that may need to go to the car in the morning. You must however,  make sure that it does not become a basket for every miscellaneous item that you don’t know what to do with.
    • Each room in the home requires a trash bin with a removable trash bag to prevent trash from landing under the bed or behind the sofa.
    • Continue with your Paperwork system 5 minutes daily for sorting and 10 minutes weekly for filing. (Please refer to my blog on How to Organize Your Paperwork, for some useful tips.)
    • Take 3 minutes in the morning to make your bed and hang up your clothes before going to work.
    • Instead of buying items just because they are “cute” or you “like it”. First consider two things:
      • Where will you place this item in your home?
      • What will you get rid of in its place, to prevent you gathering up more clutter. (One in, one out.)
    • Go through your children’s closets and toys at least twice a year, before their birthday and before Christmas. Work with your child on deciding which items they no longer have use for and have outgrown. I have always trained my children to give to the less fortunate before they acquire new things, for the following reasons:
      • It creates a giving spirit in your child.
      • You also make room for the new toys. (A home for everything.)
      • You are teaching your child how important the idea of one-in and one-out is. This will give them the tools as adults to prevent clutter in their homes.
    • If you do not enjoy cleaning your home thoroughly once a week, then divide your home into sections and clean a different section thoroughly each day. Do not shy away from giving your child added responsibility in assisting you with this task. My girls have vacuumed since they were both six and dusted from the age of 3 years old. Of course they are not going to do as good a job as you would, but it will give you the opportunity to teach them how to do it properly while training them to be efficient in their own homes one day.
    • It is also important to wash your dishes or place them in the dishwasher after every meal. If you don’t do that, then you are left with 2 meals worth of dishes and then 3. It is easy to see how dirty dishes can stack up in the sink and soon become an overwhelming task to deal with.
    • Always plan your meals in advance so that you have the necessary ingredients for that meal. If you prefer to shop only once weekly, then plan your meals a week ahead so that you can shop accordingly.
    • Have a scheduled homework routine and bedtime routine for your children. It will result in your children having better grades, greater independence and less stress on your end.

      You can keep up an organized home by taking a little time every day to follow these simple tips. It is far easier spending 20-40 minutes tidying up a day than spending 20-40 hours having to undo the harm done by neglecting that space in the first place.

How to Organize Your Paperwork

  1. 23c5922836cb278202dfacac0051762eTemporary Baskets for paperwork:
    • Basket (1) – TO DO
    • Basket (2) – TO FILE
    • Basket (3) – TO PAY
    • Basket (4) – TO READ
  1. Filing must become a habit. Make a specific time once a week to file things away that are in your Temporary Basket. If not, before you know it, you are sitting with an overwhelming mountain of paperwork.
  1. Always keep important papers Safe:
    • Automobile information
    • Bank account numbers
    • Birth certificates
    • Credit card numbers
    • Deeds
    • Important receipts
    • Instructions
    • Insurance policies
    • Loan agreements
    • Marriage/Divorce certificates
    • Medical records
    • Mortgage agreements
    • Passports
    • PIN numbers
    • School transcripts
    • Service contracts
    • Tax returns (last 5 years)
    • Warranties
    • Wills
  1. Use Different color Folders/ Tabs or labels: Group – Like – Subjects the same color. This will make it easier to find a specific folder when needed.
  1. Invest in a good quality Filing Cabinet. Look for one that will be dependable but also not look unattractive in your home.
  1. Recommended length of time to keep specific documents, varies:
    • Keep Forever: Permanent or Original documents that do not change over time. E.g. Birth, Marriage, Divorce, Social Security.
    • Keep for many years: Records of proof of Payment or Transaction. E.g. Tax Returns (3 to 6 Years), Car title, mortgage etc.
    • Keep for one year: Yearly Budget, bank statements, Auto Insurance Policies that expire.
    • Keep Temporarily: e.g. Credit Card receipts or account receipts, until they match with a new bill showing your last payment on it.
  1. If all else fails, call Chaos 2 Organized to help you get a handle on your paperwork.

View this video on Office Organization

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