Marrying Two Households – “Do you stuff take me stuff”

Marrying Two Households – “Do you stuff take me stuff”

Recently we just did a full house, many room, closet by closet organization for a couple who although were married 2 years ago, just recently decided they needed to purge items that were overwhelming them as a couple, because their “stuff” came with them when they married.

Marrying Two Households – “Do you stuff take me stuff”

As the average age of individuals getting married increases, the reality of each person coming into the marriage with their own household full of contents is very real. AND that is on top of all the new items acquired through showers and wedding presents!!

So let the decluttering and elimination begin!

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The Not So EMPTY Empty Nest

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One of the issues that comes up with the empty nest situation is what to do with the belongings of a child who is slightly nomadic but still needs a home base to store things. I have two at the moment and I have come up with a pretty good system to keep things orderly and accessible.

The first thing I do is wrangle them to spend at least half a day with me systematically going through their items and sorting into piles of keep, donate, and archive. I like to use The Container Store’s Deep Sweater box for clothing and larger items, and their regular Sweater Box for smaller things. Labeling with a label maker is essential to the process which makes it much easier to locate specific items. We then put the bins in a closet of their designated room, and then archival items we place in our storage room. It goes without saying that this process requires occasional editing and more purging.

We have found that this process makes it easy for them to either call me from the road and send them certain items, or when they do return they have a much easier time finding that flannel shirt they love.

Written By: Leslie Dietrich, Project Manager, Professional Organizer

Prepare your Home for Fall with these 4 Tips

With Fall just around the corner, it's time to prepare your home for colder weather. Don't have time? Or feeling overwhelmed with clutter? Not to worry, give us a call at  303-448-9966 and schedule a home organization refresh with one of our professional teams today!

  • Beautify Your Bathroom: Avoid exposure to germs and bacteria by giving your bathroom a deep scrub before the moisture builds up with the fast approaching Fall months. 

  • Check for Drafts: Use a lighted candle around doors and windows and if you see a flicker, inspect for broken or cracked seals.

  • Furnace Inspection: Hire an HVAC professional to check heating efficiency, test for leaks and change the filter.

Organize the Shed: Summer filled up your shed space; time to sort, categorize, purge and organize summer gear. Move summer gear to the back and organize winter gear to the front for easy access.

Household Management Stats:

80%  of what we keep we rarely use, Agency Sales Magazine.

23%  of adults pay bills late and incur fees because they can’t find their bills, Harris Interactive.

40%  of housework can be eliminated by simply getting rid of clutter the National Soap and Detergent Association.

25%  of people with two-car garages fill it with too much stuff that they can’t park a car inside, U.S. Department of Energy.

80%  of household clutter is the result of disorganization, not lack of space, The National Soap and Detergent Association.

By: Analiese Ross, AMR Digital Marketing

Organization is a muscle to be exercised!

When I turned 30 I had my first real taste of adulting. Living in LA at the time, I was a regional manager for an upscale heath and fitness company, enjoying my first ‘big kid’ job and the bump in income that came with that.  It was what I had been dreaming of after being a poor college kid, then struggling to find my place in the workforce following that. But success wasn’t exactly as I had pictured it would be - instead of relief there was a level of stress I didn’t expect.  Money was rolling in but bills went unpaid and debt mounted, mail and important notices were lost.  I couldn’t keep up with the increasing stream of emails, voicemails and text messages that were streaming in, business or personal.  My lack of organizational skills were blowing up in my face as my work schedule became more and more demanding.  I needed help in a major way.  So I did something very LA and hired a personal assistant.  

Enter Caitlyn; my hero and organizing angel.  At the time I didn’t know I would be getting an education in organizing, nor would Caitlyn have described herself as a professional organizer, but that’s what she really was.  Caitlyn brought me into the digital world with calendars and notes, helped me purge old and unnecessary papers, and introduced me to budgeting software and automated bill pay.  The beginnings of bringing order into my life were difficult and, at first, I kept falling off the wagon.  Slowly but surely, though, I became better at keeping myself together.  I was getting stronger and stronger in my organizational habits, which was leading to a more productive and stress-free life. Now 10 years, 2 cities and a career change later, I look back and I’m so thankful I was able to learn the skills to keep myself from plunging further into stress and debt.  With the help from an outside perspective I was able develop a stronger process for order and more freedom in my life.  So begin now, and strengthen your organizational skills for maximum mental health and vitality in the long run! 

Written by: Amy Young, Project Coordinator, Professional Organizer

6 Steps to Simplify Your Space

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Here are six S-I-M-P-L-E ways you can show the clutter in your life who’s really in charge.

Start - If you’re so overwhelmed that you don’t know where to begin, try starting with one small area that haunts you the most--a section of kitchen counter, a small drawer.

Integrate - Pick up five things, and return them to their proper location. These should be items you’re used to seeing deposited on counters or floors; mail, the dog’s leash, your daughter’s hair clip, random sport socks. If you don’t have a designated place for them, think about one that would suit, and start using it all the time.

Maybe - Give yourself the gift of a “Maybe” box that you can put things in for now. Sometimes, even though we know we should get rid of something, we can’t quite let it go. Look at the random selection you’ve kept a few months down the road--chances are it will all go straight to donation.

Purchase Wisely - Be a more conscious shopper so that you’re not filling your decluttered home with more clutter. Whenever you see something you want, add it to an ongoing list with the date you first saw it, and then revisit the list 30 days later. You may find when you check back that the urge to purchase it has gone.

Lessen – studies show that less visual clutter leads to less overwhelm.  Only display items that are beautiful to you or that bring back a wonderful memory.

Eliminate - Just get rid of these things--I mean, seriously: why are you keeping them? 

6 ITEMS TO PART WITH TODAY!

  • Ø  Trash

  • Ø  Broken items

  • Ø  Duplicates                                       

  • Ø  Items you hate

  • Ø  Gifts you never bonded with

  • Ø  Any gadget unused for a year

Living in a cluttered home or trying to work in a cluttered office is an exercise in frustration. Car keys get swallowed up, you can’t locate your important report in time for your meeting, or you replace something you can’t find only to have the original turn up shortly after. Isn’t that the worst? Make sure that never happens again by getting clutter under S-I-M-P-L-E control... one random sport sock at a time.

Written By: Jennifer Gowler, Project Manager, Professional Organizer

Image by Chris Nyce

READY, SET, Get Organized!

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After you you've decluttered, level up with these 5 tools: 

1. MATCHING HANGERS

This is one of the best investments you can make and the main ingredient of every organized closet!  Try Huggable Hangers from The Container Store.  They aren’t bulky and grip your clothes so they don’t slide off.

2. LINUS DRAWER ORGANIZERS 

These clear containers from The Container Store look great in any drawer and make it easy to see what’s inside! They also lighten the space and create a spacious uncluttered look.  We love the versatility of this line and they can be used over and over again in your current and future homes! 

3. STICKY NOTES  

When you rework your organization systems, things are bound to move around.  This is especially true if you are relocating!  Don't let the entire family open every drawer in the kitchen to find the spoons.  Label with sticky notes them until you've all acclimated to your new home!  

4. UNIFORM STORAGE CONTAINERS 

We know you.  We know you pulled out 10 different jars before you found what you were looking for.  In addition to looking good, uniform storage containers allow you to utilize your space more efficiently.  And you will find what you're looking for in a fraction of the time.  

5. SHELF RISERS

Shelf risers from The Container Store are the best solution for making sure everything is visible and accessible.  You won't use what you can't see and that is where clutter begins. These beauties are expandable so when you move you can fit them into your new cabinets and shelves, no problem!  

RELOCATING THIS SUMMER?

Let our expert staff at Organization & Relocation coordinate your move from start to finish.  Kick back, relax and don't cancel that family vacation.  Contact us to today for a free consultation. 

January Home Maintenance Tips

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Now is the time to go through all of your files. Who says you have to wait until the Spring to get some cleaning done?

  1. Clean out your filing cabinets. Go through your 2016 files and archive what you need for taxes and shred documents which you no longer need, less clutter - the better!

  2. Organize your home improvement files. Review warranties and check on recommended maintenance for your furnace and appliances.

  3. Sanitize hard surfaces such as countertops, laptops, TV remotes, etc. Wash your children's stuffed animals. It's cold and flu season, after all.

Not Just Another Pretty Screen: Digital Desktop Tuneup

Since more than 75% of American adults use computers either at home or at work, it’s probably time we got better at learning how to clean and organize them. I recently saw a computer desktop that had hundreds of files scattered across it like a bad case of screen acne. It made me realize that a cluttered computer desktop has the same unbalancing effect as a cluttered desk surface in your home or office - it makes you feel chaotic and mildly out of control.

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Before we get into the nitty, let’s attack the gritty. Dr. James Francis, a British microbiologist, did a study a few years back in which he took samples from 33 office keyboards in London. He then compared these culture samples to swabs taken from toilet seats in the same buildings. Yup, you guessed it. The average office keyboard had germ levels up to five times higher than those commonly found on a toilet seat.

So what do you say we clean these germ factories up?

First power down everything. If you’re a stickler, you’ll want to go with purchased cleaners and cloths that are meant for computer use. If not, you can use common household items.

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Clean your screen with a microfiber cloth or a cotton bandanna, as paper towels can scratch. Spray the cloth, not the screen, with an equal mix of vinegar and water and wipe carefully.

Use a dry paintbrush to dust the keyboard. A Post-It note folded over will get out any stubborn crumbs or mysterious substances (or you can blow off the keyboard with an air compressor for the same result). A Q-tip lightly dipped in alcohol will clean between the keys--just make sure no liquid finds its way below decks.

Lastly, clean the desk or area your computer is on. Wrap and label cables and get them out of sight.

Now that the housing is cleaned up, let’s get to the interior of your system. I’ll just give broad advice, and you can adapt the general ideas accordingly depending on whether you use a Mac or a PC.

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First you need to decide which files can stay and which can go. Downloads you still haven’t referenced, large video files you’ll never watch again, rough drafts of reports long submitted...highlight all the ones you don’t even have to think about getting rid of and drag them en masse to the trash can. Don’t get into the micro details right now--just put any you’re not sure of into a Pending folder you can sort through over time. You should be left with only those files that are active and that you’re sure you want to keep.

Like any organizational project, you have to occasionally use a tool to simplify the process. In this case: folders. Set up folders labeled with the same general categories you use in your paper filing system--Home, Finances, Work, etc. You can also set up subfolders within these categories, but beware of going too deep with these. Now reassign the remaining files on your screen into the proper folders and organize them into a row from your pull-down menu.

If you automatically save to your desktop, folders will now allow you to save directly into the correct one. How fabulous is that? When labeling, make sure you’re concise but detailed so you can access the file you want efficiently.

Files you don’t want to get rid of but also don’t need to access often (if at all) can go into an Archives folder.

With your screen looking a little more Zen, snazz it up with a new wallpaper, and now let’s make sure your operating system is in tip-top shape.

  • Get rid of apps you don’t want from your applications folder by using an uninstaller to capture the app plus all the associated files that can hang around and hog space.

  • Update your antivirus software and run a full scan.

  • Set your computer to use automatic updating to make sure your software is the latest and greatest. (Software obtained through these channels is trustworthy.)

  • Clear internet data. As you surf around on the internet, you drag along bits and pieces that eventually slow down your system.

  • If you’re trying to protect your privacy, you have to delete both text-based cookies and flash cookies. Different browsers use different methods. You can research them here.

  • Back up to the cloud or any external system that works for you.

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Sitting down with your cup of morning coffee to a sparkly clean and organized computer is a fabulous way to kick off your day. Set aside 15 minutes at the end of your work week to clean up folders, delete items, and make sure your screen is fresh-faced for the next week. Your Monday morning will thank you.

Happy Organizing!

Back to School... Again! How to Save Money and Time by Shopping at Home First

One of my favorite things to do as a professional organizer and productivity consultant is introduce my clients to the concept of shopping at home. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but now that it’s back-to-school time, let’s dive into it with a little more depth.

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When things are in their place and we know where that is, we tend not to  become repeat buyers--as in purchasing things we already have. For example, when we buy dish soap we usually put it under the sink, right? When it’s gone we replace it, and so on. But when we’re buying items that don’t have an obvious place, sometimes they get stashed elsewhere and then we forget about them. How many times have you opened a low-rotation cupboard to find something you were looking for that you’ve maddeningly since replaced?

Getting ready for back to school is a perfect time to survey anything you may have tucked away “for later” and to shop at home in general. Before you head out with your kids to purchase all new stuff, do these few simple things to save your family time and money.

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  • Go through clothes--including shoes and coats--with your children to establish what needs to be donated, what should be tossed, and what can be passed on to a sibling or friend. Children grow so quickly that they often don’t have enough time in the saddle to truly wear clothes out, so hand-me-downs at younger ages tend to be less worn. Once you’ve done this and have a solid idea of what they have, you’ll have a better concept of what they need.

  • If you didn’t do this at the end of the school year, now is the time to empty, clean, and spruce up backpacks. Shake them out outside, and use a damp cloth to rid them of crumbs and other mystery items. Good quality backpacks are essential for kids since they have to carry several textbooks every day, so if your child is making a move from a kid pack to a more adult version, look at what your family has for day hikes that might be suitable and let them trade up that way.

  • Go through last year’s school stuff to see what can be salvaged in terms of binders, folders, lined paper, pencils, markers, pens. Get rid of anything that doesn’t need to limp along for another year and then sort through what’s left. You can divide the used items among your children and then round out their needs by purchasing a few new things for each of them.

  • If you’re someone who buys things when they’re on sale to be used down the line, check out the area where you stash that stuff (with luck you know where that is!) to make sure you didn’t tuck anything away that would work for back to school.

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  • Don’t head straight to department stores--see what you can find first in the world of discount retailers or thrift stores, especially for shoes and clothing. If your kids refuse to shop there, don’t hesitate to buy for them to try on at home; discount retailers all have super smooth return policies. (I have a friend whose middle-school daughter’s favorite jacket was a $3 thrift store buy. She just neglected to mention where she got it!)

 Getting your kids ready for another year at school doesn’t have to break the bank. By shopping at home to reuse and upcycle you can save time and money while teaching your children valuable life lessons in the process. How’s that for a win-win?

 Happy Organizing!

Decluttering 101

Someone recently asked me about the biggest challenge I face when helping clients organize their homes and offices. A couple answers are always way up there, but I have to say the one that consistently tops the list is the same old friend:

CLUTTER.

Here’s the thing about clutter: It spares no one. Yes, even someone with almost ten years in the Professional Organizing business can look over at her desk or kitchen counter to find a pop-up clutter convention taking place that no one invited her to. (Let me quickly add that it takes me minimal time to restore order and send that clutter packing. But still!)

I think of clutter as visual chaos. Like any kind of chaos, it stresses us out and doesn’t allow us to relax. The strange thing is that, even if we can’t see it, it still affects us. The “out of sight, out of mind” rule doesn’t apply when you stuff things in a drawer and jam it shut or stack a bunch of boxes full of who knows what in your garage. It just becomes energy that gets stuck and starts to stagnate. Yuck.

I tell my clients that decluttering is a beautiful thing because of the way it makes room for the things that really matter in our lives. In addition, it makes our lives more peaceful, joyful, and serene.

Here are five ways you can show the clutter in your life who’s really in charge.

1.  Just get rid of these things--I mean, seriously: why are you keeping them?

  • Trash

  • Broken stuff

  • Duplicates

  • Things you hate

  • Gifts you never bonded with (just because Aunt Gert gave you her gravy boat doesn’t mean you have to keep it)

  • Any gadget unused for a year

2.  If you’re so overwhelmed that you don’t know where to begin, try starting with one small area that haunts you the most--a section of kitchen counter, a small table top. Organizational guru Peter Walsh advises that you spend ten minutes a day decluttering--once you start seeing the difference that even a baby step like that makes, you may spin it out to twenty minutes.

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3.  Pick up five things, and return them to their proper location. These should be items you’re used to seeing deposited on counters or floors; mail, the dog’s leash, a newspaper section, your daughter’s hair clip, random sport socks. If you don’t have a designated place for them, think about one that would suit, and start using it all the time. Make sure the kids know where things belong, and get them on board with putting things away (labels can really help with this). Try to make it a habit for everyone to put things in their place.

4.  Give yourself the gift of a “Maybe” box that you can put things in for now. Sometimes, even though we know we should get rid of something, we can’t quite let it go. Look at the random selection you’ve kept a few months down the road--chances are it will all go straight to donation.

5.  Be a more conscious shopper so that you’re not filling your decluttered home with more clutter. Whenever you see something you want, add it to an ongoing list with the date you first saw it, and then revisit the list 30 days later. You may find when you check back that the urge to purchase it has gone. And if you do decide to get it, at least you’ve given the item the time and consideration it deserves. Make sure to shop in your own home first, however. That way you won’t buy a repeat package of sponges when you already have two others under the sink.

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Living in a cluttered home or trying to work in a cluttered office is an exercise in frustration. Car keys get swallowed up, you can’t locate your important report in time for your meeting, or you replace something you can’t find only to have the original turn up shortly after. Isn’t that the worst? Make sure that never happens again by getting clutter under control... one random sport sock at a time.

Happy Organizing!

Green Up Your Act! Getting Your Gardening Zone in Shape

Spring always seems to lead the charge when it comes to getting things in order. Maybe the inspiration comes from opening windows long closed against winter’s chill and feeling the sunshine flood in; maybe it’s hearing the robins’ song as soon as you open your eyes in the morning. Regardless, a true spring clean is never confined to just the inside of your home. It extends outside as you clear debris out of garden beds, cut back dead growth, and generally give the outside of your house the same facelift you gave the inside a few weeks back.

Getting your gardening gear in order makes all the difference to the success of your project. Whether you have a shed or a simply a dedicated area in your garage, here are a few tips to whip your green thumb zone into submission.

One of the most useful organizational tools for a gardening area is a bulletin board. Here’s where you hang your calendar of events: what you planted, when you fertilized, what’s coming up in your veggie garden, what tasks are ahead. You can also use it to tack up labelled envelopes for used seed packets, plant info stakes, or receipts for plantings that come from stores with a 12-month survival policy (like Home Depot). Having a simple gardening HQ keeps you on top of your home’s curb appeal.

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A ready-when-you-are garden carryall is a real timesaver. Anything with a handle is perfect for this--a basket or even an old-style milk delivery crate will do the trick. Stock it with gardening gloves, clippers, weeder, knee pads, and any other tools you always like to have close by. You may be surprised how much quicker it is now to weed the petunia bed!

Keeping as much off the floor as possible is key, so designate a hanging area for shovels, rakes, and hoes, and a few shelves with containers for smaller items. If you have space on the wall or the back of a door, a compartmentalized cloth shoe rack works well to store full seed packets, gardening stakes and twist ties, and smaller hand tools. Keep hoses and extension cords for power tools well coiled with Velcro straps.

At a certain age a potting station (which can be as simple as two sawhorses with a piece of wood or counter across them and a lattice against the wall) is the only civilized way to work on your planters and window boxes. It also provides storage underneath for soil, compost, and fertilizer. These large bags are best stored off the floor either in oversized plastic tubs or on a shelf. If you use chemicals in your garden, you might consider a locked box or high cabinet to ensure curious children can’t get at them.

Because soil is an integral part of the equation whenever you are talking gardening, your shed or garage gardening area is going to--you guessed it--attract dirt. Keep a small broom and dustpan on hand in this area to keep dust, dirt, and cobwebs at bay.

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Any project you tackle, inside or out, is always easier when the required tools are organized, visible, and easy to access. It’s amazing how much easier it is to head out to the garden when you don’t have to spend fifteen minutes searching for those elusive clippers. Give your green zone the same love you show the inside of your house and get paid back every day with a healthy, thriving garden.

Happy Organizing!