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Monday, December 27, 2010

After the Holidays - Shopping to Save

Well... the holidays are over... the gift giving ones at least. So believe it or not I am going to tell you to shop ! Now, I am not a shopper myself. I hate the crowds and the pushing and grabbing and all the chaos that goes on with "after the holiday" sales. But now is the time to stock up on presents for the upcoming year (birthdays and other things) and for holiday decorations and cards.


Everyone knows that after the holidays there are bargains to be had. If you can, put aside some money to stock up on holiday essentials. Take advantage of the sales on wrapping paper and Christmas cards. You can find a lot of these on sale at 50 % – 75 % off !


Planning ahead can save you money, time and your sanity.


I have a “gift closet” where I keep a stock of candles and other items that are generic enough to give to anyone at a moments notice.


Things such as movies, DVD’s, CD’s, games, clothes…. don’t have an expiration date on them and if you can save 75 % off by buying them a few months earlier, go for it.


Being organized is about planning ahead. So go ahead, I give you permission. Shop and Save.


But please.... don't go overboard. And make sure that you put everything away in an organized manner. Put temporary labels on the things that you buy so that you know who it's for.


Happy Shopping !



Organizational Consulting Services

http://www.organizationalconsultingservices.com/

Monday, December 20, 2010

What is Clutter and Your Greatest Organizing Challenge

In one of the seminars that I gave on "Clutter & Chronic Disorganization" I asked the following questions: "What does Clutter mean to you?" and "What is your greatest Organizing challenge?".


Everyone answered these questions differently. The following are some of the responses that I received.


What is Clutter ?


Too much stuff all over the place

Stuff that is not in its place

Piles

Stuff left in a haphazard way taking up valuable space

Lots of stuff around – magazines, newspapers, mail

Useless items

Excess stuff around that is not organized

Accumulation of things that prevent use of space

Papers everywhere

Messy

Anything that I don’t know where to put

Unorganized

Papers on the counter

Messy closets, basements, garage

Stuff covering all surfaces


What is Your Greatest Organizing Challenge ?


Paperwork

Organizing any space

Not knowing what to do with things

Mail, magazines, kids school stuff

Basement & garage

Dining room table

Deciding what to keep

Not throwing stuff away in a timely manner

How long to keep records

Finding places to keep things

Starting but not finishing projects

Afraid to get rid of things that might have value

Childhood memorabilia

Closets

Putting things where they belong

Keeping things just because they cost money


If any of the above statements sound like something that you would say....remember.... you are not alone.


Everyone has some type of clutter and everyone has challenges. By knowing what our challenges are we can come up with a plan to conquer the clutter and those challenges and have a more organized home and life.


Start in one small area and clear your clutter. Don't let yourself get overwhelmed. Set a time limit on each phase of your organizing project. Take a break. Give yourself a reward for a job well done.


Slowly you can take back your home and your life.


Remember: Less Clutter = Less Stress (sm)



Organizational Consulting Services

http://www.organizationalconsultingservices.com/





Monday, December 13, 2010

It's Almost Christmas

It’s almost Christmas. A time for family and friends. A time to celebrate what you have not what you don’t. It’s time to remember what’s important.



Opening presents is fun and exciting. Not only for kids. Adults love getting presents also. Whether they admit it or not.



But in this rush to buy presents step back and think about the person that you are buying a present for. Get them something that they like not that you like. If you are unsure if they will like what you picked out …put it back !



Don’t just buy things for the sake of buying things. If they don’t like it they will just smile and pretend that they do and they will never use it (or wear it). Then it will end up being clutter. Stuff they they feel they cannot get rid of. Because you bought it for them. Guilt will set in. The clutter will be there forever. Reminding them that they cannot throw it out.



So remember that when buying gifts. If you aren’t 100 % sure that they will absolutely love the gift don’t buy it. Save everyone the emotional trauma of having to pretend.



The holidays aren’t about gifts. They are about being together as a family and friends.



Give the gift of time. That is something that everyone will love. And remember forever.



Happy Holidays !




Organizational Consulting Services

www.organizationalconsultingservices.com

Monday, December 6, 2010

ORGANIZING YOUR REFRIGERATOR


The refrigerator is not a place that people normally think about organizing. But it’s one place where things accumulate and are forgotten about. In back of the refrigerator. Way in the back. Or in the door.


Food expires. Condiments. Sauces. Things that you buy, put in the door of the refrigerator and forget.


Grab that barbecue sauce and check that date. What about your salad dressing? Or the mustard?

Or the mayonnaise? Or the salsa? Or the roasted peppers? Or the minced garlic (I admit that I just threw mine out after checking my refrigerator).


Don’t forget to check your eggs and milk. Food harbors bacteria.


Things that you might not use very often can be very dangerous to your health if they are expired and still in your refrigerator a year or two after their expiration date.


Most people don’t think about checking the dates on food in their refrigerator. Until they get sick.


I’ve been through many clients’ pantry and refrigerator and thrown out things that were a few years past their expiration date.


A website that you might want to check out for expiration dates is: http://www.stilltasty.com


Get in the habit of going through your refrigerator at least once every other month and checking expiration dates.

Organize your refrigerator like your pantry. Put like items with like items. Condiments with condiments. Salad dressings with salad dressings. Juices with juices. Vegetables with vegetables. And so on.

Keep your refrigerator clean and organized and make sure that your food has not expired.

It’s your health. Take control of it. Don’t neglect to check your refrigerator.


Organizational Consulting Services

http://www.organizationalconsultingservices.com/

Monday, November 29, 2010

HOLIDAY GIFT IDEAS…. Or DON'TS

Holidays and gifts go together. For some people shopping is not only fun but it’s an addiction. For others it’s a painful experience that they would rather not participate in. I am not a shopper. I try to avoid the mall at all cost. In fact, I’ll just come out and say it “I hate shopping”.

If holidays are supposed to be about family and traditions why is there so much pressure to “find the perfect gift” or to “outdo last year’s gifts”?

In this economy money is tight everywhere. So maybe now is the time to sit back and re-evaluate our priorities.

I admitted that I hated shopping. But I love giving gifts. I spend a great deal of time and thought on every gift that I give. I only give gifts to people that I truly like or love. I don’t just randomly hand out gifts because it’s “expected”.

As an organizer I tell my clients to “de-clutter their home”. I tell them to “give away or donate things that you do not really love, like or use”. But there is the “guilt” of giving away something that a family member or friend gave you. Even though you really, really don’t like it. Or, to be blunt, is downright ugly! I go through this a lot with my clients. So for the holidays I offer some professional and personal advice.


Don’t give gifts that you like. Give a gift that the recipient will like. If you haven’t seen them wear that green sweater with the funky design or hang that art piece on their wall, it’s not a good gift idea.


Don’t give them some decoration for their home. People like to decorate their homes themselves. They don’t like being forced to put out a decorative item just because it was given to them by a relative.


Don’t give them a gift basket of something that they are allergic to or something that they can’t eat because they are on a special diet.


Don’t give the children of friends or relatives something that their parents disapprove of. Everyone is entitled to raise their children with their own values, not yours.


Though I don’t particularly like giving gift certificates (because it’s so impersonal) there are times when it makes sense. Like when the recipient lives in another town or you don’t know their size or color preference.


Do consider giving the gift of yourself. Make time for a friend or family member and take them to an event (such as a play or movie) or a one-on-one dinner. With everyone so busy these days the gift of time means so more than a store bought gift.


Do something special for someone. Such as help them with a project that they really need help with and you have a talent for.


Do consider giving the gift of time to a friend or family member that can’t afford a babysitter and could really use some alone time with their spouse …or even by themselves.


Do consider the gift of food. Splurging on some really fun things like great cookies or beautiful pastries or appetizers that you would not buy on an ordinary day and would never consider buying for yourself. I buy my husband smoked Salmon and great crackers and individual bottles of micro brewed beer. He loves it and I get to help him enjoy it.


Do consider putting together a gift basket of basic food essentials for some friends that might be going through a rough time. In this economy that’s a lot of people and they would probably appreciate it even though you might not think it’s an especially original gift.

The holidays are about family and friends. Not outdoing each other with the best or most gifts.

Enjoy the holidays. Enjoy your family. And remember to give thanks for what you have.


Organizational Consulting Services

www.organizationalconsultingservices.com

Monday, November 22, 2010

DON’T BE EMBARRASSED BY YOUR ORGANIZER

More and more people are becoming aware of what a Professional Organizer can do for them and they are now utilizing their services and expertise in helping them solve numerous business, home and life organizing challenges.

But a lot of people are actually embarrassed to be utilizing a Professional Organizer. And that hurts my feelings!

I was actually quite surprised when a number of people said to me “I don’t want anyone to know that I am using an Organizer. It’s embarrassing”.

I didn’t quite understand the “embarrassing” part. These were not my hoarding clients. These were clients who had the good sense to hire someone that was an expert in their field. Someone to coach them through their issues and help them come up with solutions that worked for them.

People hire landscapers every day to mow their lawn. And I am sure that they are not embarrassed because they have someone else cut their grass. I’m sure that they could probably do it. If they wanted to or had the time. Or what about hiring a maid service to clean your house? Is that embarrassing?

Or people that hire personal trainers. What, they have no willpower to do it on their own? I know that those workout tapes don’t work for me. I need to go to a gym to be tortured. And I did actually hire a personal trainer years ago. I need someone to hold me responsible. And talking back to the workout tapes isn’t the same as complaining about how the instructor is torturing you. I needed the instructor.

Hiring a professional organizer should not be embarrassing. It actually means that you know your limitations and know what you are not good at. I’m not an interior decorator. I am not a cleaning service.

A Professional Organizer teaches people organizing skills. They coach them through the organizing process. They help them make decisions. They come up with solutions that work for them, not their neighbor.

Professional Organizers don’t only work with people that are Chronically Disorganized or Hoarders.

They work with all types of people and businesses to come up with solutions that make their businesses, homes and lives run more smoothly and efficiently. They show them how to save time and money by being organized.

They are their own personal workout coach. And as a Professional Organizer I feel very fortunate that my clients allow me to help them and coach them with their various issues, whether it’s organizing their closet or their garage or their life.

I have clients that have the cleanest houses I’ve ever seen to clients that have severe hoarding issues. They are all unique and they are all special. And they all teach me something new every time I’m there.

For more ways on how to use a Professional Organizer, re-read:

http://professionalorganizer4u.blogspot.com/search/label/DIFFERENT%20WAYS%20TO%20USE%20A%20PROFESSIONAL%20ORGANIZER




Remember ………… Less Clutter = Less Stress (sm) ….. in your home, your business and your life.



Organizational Consulting Services

www.organizationalconsultingservices.com

Monday, November 15, 2010

Organizing Your Laundry

Laundry….something that everyone has and everyone seems to hate.

It’s not as bad as most people make it out to be. By getting your family to help you can make it quite painless.

I know….you are now rolling your eyes and saying “yeah, right….not happening…”.

Well…. Sorry, I can’t help you with that issue….. but there are ways to make it easier on you.

One idea is to assign each member of the family a different color towel. Then, when the wet towels are on the floor you know immediately where the blame should go. You will also know who thinks that they live in a hotel and gets fresh towels after every shower!

Make sure that everyone has a laundry hamper (or at least knows where the laundry hamper is). And just to remind you ….tell them that it’s not “on the floor”.

Pick a “laundry day” and let them know that they are required to take their laundry hamper into the laundry room so that you can do laundry.

Now here is the hard part: if they don’t give you’re their laundry on the designated day…they don’t get their laundry done! Be tough….be mean….be a mom. If you stick to your guns they will learn ….or they will just go about their lives in dirty clothes….. Their choice.

Kids can learn at a young age…and should be taught…how to sort the laundry. Even if they do nothing else…they can help sort colors. As they get older they should be given more laundry responsibility. If you don’t teach them when they are young….they will be in for quite a shock when they go off to college.

After the laundry is done have the kids help you fold towels. And show them where they go. Yes, kids need a lot of reminding…..over and over and over again. It’s a ploy so that they don’t have to help. Don’t fall for it !

Laundry doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t be a “whole day” thing. There are too many other things to do with your time. Throw in some laundry before you start dinner. Take it out and throw it in the dryer after dinner. Fold clothes while you’re watching T.V. .

The important thing is…. make it a family affair. Everyone wears clothes….everyone helps!

But then again…. I’m a mean Mom !


Organizational Consulting Services

http://www.organizationalconsultingservices.com/

Saturday, November 13, 2010

WHAT DOES HOARDING LOOK LIKE ?

With the surge of Hoarding shows on T.V. people ask me all the time if I work with hoarders and when I tell them that I do their next comment is usually something like “That’s disgusting. I would just throw everything in the garbage” or “I would just burn the house down”.

Well…. that’s not the right way to work with hoarders. In fact, that would cause more damage. It takes a lot for a hoarder (or a family member) to actually pick up the phone and call an organizer. If you just start throwing all of their things in the garbage you are in fact telling them that “their stuff is not important, it’s worthless” and you have lost them. You have lost their trust and respect. And once you have lost that, the project will be stalled if not halted.

Working with hoarders requires a lot of patience and special training. Having a Certificate of Study in Chronic Disorganization and a Certificate of Study in Basic Hoarding Issues with the CD Client in addition to classes in mental health issues has really helped me to understand how to work with hoarders.

For some of my really severe hoarding clients there are other people involved in the process. People such as mental health professionals, social workers, the health department, lawyers, Adult Protective Services….

Unfortunately, most of these people don’t really know anything about hoarding. I’ve had numerous social workers tell me that “they got other people to help their client throw out the garbage”. At which point my mouth dropped open and I wanted to say to them “are you kidding ?”

It just shows how little they know and understand about hoarding and how to work with hoarders.
For one hoarding client who had no running water the social worker said to me “I’ll give her some dry shampoo and she’ll be fine”. I was stunned and disgusted with the social worker. She obviously didn’t care about her client and did nothing to help her. Her insight into the actual work and time frame that would be needed to get her client to have a livable house was totally unrealistic.

Hoarding is a complex issue. One that cannot be taken lightly. One that cannot be fixed in an hour or day or week or month. It’s not like on T.V..


Organizational Consulting Services

Monday, November 8, 2010

WHY WE KEEP THINGS

Having a clutter free house or life is not always easy. Sometimes even the most organized people keep things that they no longer need or things they have never used for various reasons. Reasons that don’t even make sense. Reasons that are not logical. Reasons that go back years.

We all do it. Some of us just don’t admit it. Some of us hide it deep in the back of the closet.

So why do we keep things we really don’t need or even want? For a variety of reason. Most of them emotional or psychological.

But things that we no longer want or need really is just clutter. So let it go. And let go of the guilt that goes along with it.

Why we keep things:

* My mother gave it to me (what if she asks about it?)
* My best friend gave it to me
* It was expensive
* I might need it …someday
* I’m saving it for my children (grandchildren)
* I promised that I would keep it forever
* I can use it for parts
* I’m losing weight and might wear it again
* It might come back in style
* I promised to keep it forever
* My husband gave it to me
* My wife gave it to me
* It has sentimental value (even thought it’s broken or ugly)
* I’m going to get around to reading it (magazines, books…)
* I’m going to make _________ out of it
* I’m going to have a garage sale
* I’m going to sell it on e-bay

I’m going to” seems to be a theme.

You haven’t and are not going to.

So …… get rid of it!


Remember …… LESS CLUTTER = LESS STRESS (sm)


Organizational Consulting Services

http://www.organizationalconsultingservices.com/

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thanksgiving advice

Thanksgiving is right around the corner.

For more information and great advice... re-read :

AN ORGANIZED AND STRESS FREE THANKSGIVING

http://professionalorganizer4u.blogspot.com/search?q=thanksgiving


Monday, November 1, 2010

STARTING THE HOLIDAY SEASON

The holidays are right around the corner. Before you know it Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here.

I am sure that you are all ready. All prepared. All organized. And calm.

Glad to hear it. Now that makes two of us !

I’m sure that you’ve already been exposed to Christmas ads and holiday stuff wherever you turn. And it’s not even Thanksgiving yet.

The stress is starting to set in. Some people already can’t wait for the holidays to be over. How sad.

It’s supposed to be a happy time. A time for family and friends to get together. But the pressure to put on a great holiday meal and have a festive house is too much for most people.

Don’t let the commercialism spoil things for you.

Dig deep into yourself and try to remember how much you loved the holidays as a child and try to re-create that feeling…without the commercialism.

Start by knowing if you are going to host the holiday meal this year or if you are going to someone else’s house and will only have to bring an item for dinner. If you are bringing an item be sure to ask the host / hostess what they prefer that you bring. Let them set the menu. Don’t force your ideas on them. You can have a chance later.

If you are hosting the holiday dinner then it’s time to get started on planning your menu. Write everything out and go over the menu with your family. Let everyone feel that they are participating in the planning of the meal. Holidays are a time for favorite foods. They will always be the best memory of the holiday.

When planning your desserts also think ahead for the Christmas holidays and plan on buying enough of the baking supplies that you need to get you through that holiday. You might as well get it out of the way all at once.

Once you have your menu set break it down into ingredients and put whatever you will need to buy on a shopping list. Remember, some things you might not be able to buy until right before the holiday.

If you’re like me and like to make enough food and desserts for everyone to take home be sure that you have enough plastic containers or cookies containers for everyone. You can buy inexpensive plastic containers because you might not get yours back for a long time. There are plenty of really cute holiday cookie containers available. Wait for a sale and grab a few. They make great gifts if filled with holiday cookies.



Organizational Consulting Services

http://www.organizationalconsultingservices.com/

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Organizing Your Life - Preparing of the Unexpected


Listen to internet radio with The Joyful Organizer on Blog Talk Radio

Being prepared for the unexpected is something that most people don't want to think about. But it's something that everyone needs to do. Having all of your legal, medical & health information documented and having someone know where to find it.... in case of an emergency, illness or death .... is critical.

Listen to this Radio Show and start getting yourself organized today.
It's crucial.

Monday, October 25, 2010

ORGANIZE YOUR PRIORITIES

Having a big house and new clothes and being able to do whatever you want is great. But at what price?

If you have to work at a job that you hate and work fifty (50) or sixty (60) hours a week and rarely get to see your spouse and kids, is it worth it?

For some people the answer is yes. They are all about materialistic things.

For others they just want to be comfortable and their priority is their family.

But for some people they have to work at a job they don’t like and work long hours because that is the only way to make ends meet.

The bottom line is “what are your priorities?”

In today’s society it seems to be all about “things”. People don’t spend time together as a family. They don’t eat together or play together. Everything is about “instant gratification.

It’s sad. And it won’t be until the adults are older and the kids are gone and don’t have time for them and don’t participate in their lives that the reality of the situation will sink it.

So…. change it!

Organize your priorities!

Don’t waste your time or money on “keeping up with the neighbors”. Keep up with your family. Spend time with your family. Have family dinners. Have family “time” (games, talking, activities….).

Yes, the kids will whine and complain. So what! They will get over it. But if you don’t start acting as a family now you will turn around and your ten year old will be going off to college and you wonder what happened to those lost years. Years that you can never get back.

So cut out the texting and being a zombie in front of the computer and video games and go back to the old fashioned way of actually talking to one another and interacting.

Stop shopping and buying their love. Stop filling your home with “things”. Fill your home with your family.

Make your family your priority. Don’t lose that precious time that you have with your kids. They will be gone before you know it.


Less Clutter = Less Stress (sm) ….. in your home, your business and your life.


Organizational Consulting Services

www.organizationalconsultingservices.com

Monday, October 18, 2010

START YOUNG – GET KIDS ORGANIZED

It’s never too early to start teaching your kids to be neat and organized. When my grandchild was only two years old she knew that before she left my house to go back home she had to put her toys away. She knew that I had a toy basket where I put all of her books and toys and that’s where everything went. No excuses. I like my home neat and I expected her to help. All it took was my showing her how to put the toys back in the basket and she quickly followed my example.

An organized home doesn’t miraculously happen. It takes everyone in the home to create an environment that is organized and functions smoothly. Having kids doesn’t mean that your home has to be disorganized or a cluttered mess. Children learn from their parents. If you start expecting things from your children at a young age and teach them responsibility you can have a home that is neat and organized.

The point is to teach your child some valuable tools for the future. It is really important to give them encouragement and let them know that they did a good job.

The problem that I seem to have run into is that most of the parents that I deal with have no expectations of their children. Toys and clothes are strewn all over the house and the children are never told to put them away.

Or if they are told, the kids ignore the “request” and the parents ignore the fact that they are being ignored. See the cycle?

In today’s society most households have two parents that work, therefore it’s more important than ever that kids help out around the house. Parents are parents…not maids and butlers. Maybe it’s the fact that both parents do work and have less time than they did years ago that they feel guilty about not being around and therefore allow their children to get away with not helping. They are not doing their children any favors.

By not teaching them to help around the house or to pick up after themselves they are setting them up for failure.

An organized child will do better in school. If they have their rooms organized and their clothes organized they will have everything at their fingertips and will not be late for school and they will be prepared for their classes.

Some parents think that just because they themselves are not very neat and organized means that they can’t or don’t have the right to tell their children to pick up after themselves. This is where I have to remind them that they are the parent. They have rights that children don’t. Remember the old saying: “do what I say and not what I do”?

How many parents are overwhelmed by math and science today? Does that mean that your kids don’t have to do their homework? Just because you don’t get it?

It’s the same way with being organized. Just because you may not be the most organized person doesn’t mean that you can’t expect your child to be. If you can’t teach them to be organized yourself then you can hire a professional organizer to come in and teach them to be organized… just as you would hire a swim instructor if you can’t swim or an ice skating instructor if you can’t skate.

I’ve had parents hire me to teach their children how to organize their room and organize their closets and show them how to fold their clothes (instead of just shoving them into their drawers). Kids tend to listen to everyone except their parents.

Give your child the tools they need to be successful. Start them young and expect things from them. They will thank you….later…when they are grown up.

Some things that kids can do:

2 – 4 year olds

Put away toys
Pick up clothes off of the floor

4 – 6 year olds

Clean up spills
Wipe kitchen table
Learn to make bed
Learn to set the table
Match socks

6 – 8 year olds

Make the bed
Put dishes away
Sweep the floors
Put clothes into the hamper
Set the table
Clear the table
Learn to separate clothes for the laundry
Dust

8 – 12 year olds

Put their own laundry away
Help make dinner
Make their own lunches
Rake leaves
Help wash the car
Empty garbage
Clean the bathroom
Help with actually doing the laundry
Weed the garden

13 – 15 year olds

Clean the entire house
Learn to manage their schedule
Mow the lawn
Yard work
Wash the car on their own
Babysit

16 – 18 year olds

Get an after school job
Go to the grocery store
Run errands as needed
Learn how to make a resume
Learn how to manage money



Organizational Consulting Services

http://www.organizationalconsultingservices.com/

Monday, October 11, 2010

ORGANIZE YOUR PANTRY

People always seem to complain that they do not have enough kitchen cabinet or pantry space. The truth is that most people have enough space or at least adequate space. They just don’t use it correctly.

I’ve seen too many kitchen cabinets and pantries where they are just brimming with stuff and the stuff is all over the place. No rhyme of reason.

Canned soup is mixed in with pasta. Tomato sauce is mixed in with cereal and snacks. Drink mixes are thrown in with the rice. No rhyme or reason.

LIKE with LIKE.

That’s the rule. It’s simple and easy and doesn’t require a lot of thinking.

Green beans go with green beans.

Pasta goes with pasta.

Soups go with soup.

Cereal goes with cereal.

Simple.

Easy.

I don’t do complicated.

It’s logical.

Well…that said…. it’s logical to a professional organizer. Most people that I’ve run into just put their food into the pantry without any thought on how it should be stored or in what order.

So….to make your kitchen cabinets and pantry more functional and less crowded, start by taking everything out and placing it on a table by categories.

Put beans with beans. Soups with soups. Cereal with cereal…and so on.

After that is done you can check to see if anything is expired and needs to be thrown out. Or, if you have too many of an item you can donate it to a church or food bank.

Then put things back onto your shelves in an organized and logical manner. Most cans are easily stackable to give you more room.

By doing this you can now easily see what you have and you won’t be buying things that you don’t need.

Remember, an organized kitchen makes a happy cook.

Organizational Consulting Services

www.organizationalconsultingservices.com

Monday, October 4, 2010

FOOD PRODUCTS and EXPIRATION DATES

These days a lot of people have pantries where they buy and store large amounts of food. A great idea to save time and money. You only have to shop once and you get discounts for buying in bulk.

But….how long are these foods actually good for?

A lot of foods …at least foods that go in your pantry, have an “expiration date” on them. Or a “sell by” date. Or a “best if used by” date.

What does this all mean?

Well… unfortunately the answer isn’t as simple is you might expect.

Foods like ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, herbs and many others have “best if used by” dates on them. Meats have “sell by” dates on them.

These dates do not mean that the products are no longer good after that date. It means that, in the case of things like ketchup and mayonnaise (unopened), the products are at their ”best” if “used by” a specific date. After that the textures, consistency or taste might be affected.

For meats the “sell by” date means that the stores want it out of the store and in your home “by” that date. But, you can still have it in your refrigerator after that date.

It’s a bit confusing and scary.

A great website that has a lot of information on “expiration dates” and can answer a lot of questions about those “dates on the cans” is:

http://www.stilltasty.com/

It has tips for storage and how long food lasts. It answers questions such as:

“When should you wash fruit, before you store it in the refrigerator or right before you eat it?”. The answer: “right before you eat it”.

Or… “Is it O.K. to put hot foods directly into the fridge?”. The answer: “yes”.

The website has info on :

* Fruits
* Vegetables
* Dairy & Eggs
* Meat & Poultry
* Fishes & Shellfish
* Nuts & Legumes
* Grains & Pasta
* Condiments & Oils
* Herbs & Spices
* Snacks & Sweets
* Bakes Goods
* Beverages

It’s a great website ! Check it out…and be “more organized”.



Organizational Consulting Services

http://www.organizationalconsultingservices.com/

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Certificate of Study in Hoarding

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Karin E. Fried Earns Certificate in Basic Hoarding Issues



(Cleveland, Ohio) Karin E. Fried of Organizational Consulting Services has earned a Certificate of Study in Basic Hoarding Issues with the CD Client from the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (NSGCD.) The purpose of the NSGCD Study Series is to provide both basic and specialized topic education on issues, concepts, and challenges presented by client work with the chronically disorganized.

This certificate encompasses the specialized needs and issues of working with the chronically disorganized client with hoarding issues. To earn this certificate, Fried was required to attend the “Introduction to Compulsive Hoarding” course and classes that explored topics such as compulsive shopping, recycling strategies, and environmental safety. Prior to completing this coursework, Fried earned a Certificate of Study in Chronic Disorganization (CD). Fried has also earned her Level II Chronic Disorganization (CD) Specialist Certificate.

This Specialist Certificate provides in-depth information on chronic disorganization and how to help CD clients manage more effectively in relation to getting and staying organized. In order to earn this certificate, Fried first had to receive her Certificate of Study in Chronic Disorganization. She was also required to complete extensive educational requirements including reading several books and publications, attending numerous teleclasses, and passing a general exam based on her coursework and general knowledge of CD.

My ongoing education allows me to work with clients who are chronically disorganized in a very specific manner,” said Fried. “The benefits of this continuing education are immeasurable as they enhance the quality of service I can provide to my clients.”

The National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization is a non-profit group for professional organizers and related professionals. Its mission is to benefit people affected by chronic disorganization. The NSGCD explores, develops and communicates information, organizing techniques and solutions to professional organizers, related professionals and the public. For more information, please visit www.nsgcd.org.


Organizational Consulting Services provides both business and residential organizing services. Whether your needs are for basic organizing services, chronic disorganization, hoarding or anything else, we can help. For more information, please visit www.organizationalconsultingservices.com or call (440) 666 – 9326.

Monday, September 27, 2010

More Efficient Use of Your Space

A lot of my clients say “I don’t have enough storage space”. And I say to them “yes, you do, you just aren’t utilitizing your space efficiently”.

Another problem is not the “space” but the “stuff”. “Too much stuff”.

How much stuff can one person or one family use ?

The first phase of “finding enough space” is de-cluttering. That means going through all of your stuff and getting rid of things that you no longer use, wear or need. Then there are the things that are broken or too small. Purge these things out of your life.

You have already created more “space” !!!

Now look at your closets. Most closets are designed with only one rod across the top. Very inefficient. By adding another rod you have doubled your space without doubling the size of the closet.

For your closets or pantries that have shelves you can add more space by adding shelf dividers. Again, you have just doubled your space.

If your closets have movable shelves you can change the height of the shelves depending on what you are storing on the shelves. This would also allow you to add more shelves for smaller items.

Under the bed storage is a great way to make use of seldom used space. There are great containers that have wheels that are easy to slide under the bed. You can store extra blankets, sweaters, shoes or any number of things.

Put shelves on walls and make use of wall space. A great idea for books or displaying collectibles so that they don’t take up floor or counter space.

Make use of those “nooks and crannies”. If you really looked you could find all types of small or thin shelving units that can be placed in between things.

Use decorative boxes that can sit out and double as storage.

There are lots of ways to add extra “space” to a small room.

You just have to let your imagination run wild and “think outside the box”.


Remember …… LESS CLUTTER = LESS STRESS SM


Organizational Consulting Services

http://www.organizationalconsultingservices.com/

Monday, September 20, 2010

WHAT CAN A LIFE COACH DO FOR YOU ?

There are so many things that we juggle every day. Work, family, kids, friends, school, extracurricular activities…. How do we manage to fit it all in? How do we manage to keep it all together?

How do we manage not to get lost in our lives?

Everyone is so busy today… and we are all being pulled in so many directions. How do we know if what we are doing is right or wrong?

Sometimes we doubt ourselves. And our life choices.

So how do we get back on track?

One way is to use a “life coach”. Why not? You have a coach for other things in your life.. like your workouts / health, business consultants, career coaches… Why not have a “life coach” that can help with balancing “all” the areas of your life. Balance between work and family. Balance between what you are doing with your life and what you “want” to do.

A life coach will help you figure out your priorities. They can help you figure out what’s stopping you from achieving your goals. They can help you figure out what you want to achieve and how to achieve it.

If your life is in transition they can help you find your direction in life. What’s important in your life. They can help you with a “plan”.

Most people know what they want their life to be like. They just need someone to push them in the right direction. Coaching is a partnership. A life coach will ask you “where you are now”, “where do you want to be” and “what’s stopping you”.

They point you in the right direction…. They help you find it inside of yourself.

Life coaching can cover many aspects of your life. From stress management, career planning, business coaching, family and life balance, time management and so much more.

A life coach looks at things from a different perspective than you do. They are an outsider who can see things that you can’t. They help you get and stay on track.

But…. before you can utilize a life coach you must be ready to change. You must be ready to achieve your goals. To find your direction in life. To listen.

Once you have made up your mind that you want a better life, happier life or more balanced life you will be open to the guidance that a “life coach” can give you.

If you can organize your home and your business… isn’t it about time that you organized your life?

Organizational Consulting Services

http://www.organizationalconsultingservices.com/

Monday, September 13, 2010

Business Image – First Impressions Do Matter

First impressions. They can make or break you.

Most people know that they are judged by the way they look ….fair or not. But in business it’s even more important to have the “right” image. The first thing that people see when they walk in the door of your business ….is …. what ?

* A cluttered desk ?
* A mile high stack of papers in your “inbox” ?
* Files hanging out of file cabinets ?
* Water stains down the length of the wall of your office ?
* A stained and torn up carpet ?
* A disheveled receptionist that is chomping on her gum ?
* A receptionist that “ignores” you when you come into the office ?

What about when a client calls you ? Do you answer the phone by the 2nd or 3rd ring ?
Do you answer it in a calm and professional manner ?
Do you put people on “hold” forever and forget about them ?

When people are waiting in your waiting room…..does your staff act in a professional manner ?
Do they talk about their personal life or how they were “hung over” from partying last night ?

What do your promotional materials and business cards look like ?
Do they portray the image you really want ?

Image is important. A clean and organized office says “I am professional and I deserve your business”.

A messy, cluttered, smelly office with stains on the walls and carpets says “I don’t care what you think and I’ll get around to you when I feel like it”.

Would you want a doctor to perform a procedure on you in an office that has “dust bunnies” and has his instruments just laying on a table and not looking sterilized ? I wouldn’t.

Would you close a Ten (10) Million Dollar business deal with a man whose office is filthy and run down ? Not a chance. Which is probably why that deal fell through.

Yes, both of those scenarios happened to people I know.

Image is important. It projects confidence and capability.

A clean and organized office ….and staff…. is your first step to success.


Organizational Consulting Services

http://www.organizationalconsultingservices.com/

Thursday, September 9, 2010

RUN YOUR BUSINESS LIKE A BUSINESS NOT LIKE A HOBBY

I think that it’s really important to support small businesses. Having a sense of community and knowing the people that own the business makes you feel like you are getting superior customer service. Or at least it should. Everyone likes feeling special. When you need a referral for a specific project or problem you ask your friends and colleagues and they give you the names of businesses that they have dealt with and are happy with.

Word of mouth is great advertising and you know that it comes with a built in recommendation.

But what happens when a small business falls short on customer service? You tend to get very angry and badmouth that business to everyone that you know.

Not exactly the “word of mouth” advertising that any business wants.

At the end of June we had a water tank explode at one of our rental properties. Since it was on the other side of town we didn’t use our regular plumber but called a plumber out of the yellow pages. We were desperate and in a huge bind. A very nice plumber agreed to help us out and was there to fix the problem within a few hours. We were very happy and very grateful. We immediately paid him by credit card and were promised that a receipt would be mailed to us immediately.

Since it’s rental property we needed that receipt for our accountant and for tax purposes.

It’s now September. And you guessed it. No receipt.

I have called and spoken with the owner of the business at least six (6) times now.

His excuses were:

1) “I was busy”
2) “We were on vacation”
3) “I forgot”
4) “I really did mail it myself personally, just wait a few days and it will show up” (that was 5 weeks ago).
5) “I’ll send you another copy” and “I’ll email you a copy”
6) “We were out of town over the weekend, then I came home Sunday and had to do work around the house”.
7) “I really did mail it, you will be surprised at the date when it shows up” (what about the copy you supposedly sent? Or the email you supposedly sent?”
8) “I’ll have my wife email it to you” then it was “I’ll email it myself when I get home”

We need that receipt for our taxes. Are we really asking for too much?

If you run a business, paperwork comes with the territory. It you can’t handle the paperwork get an assistant to help you so that your customers aren’t inconvenienced and annoyed. If your wife is too busy with the kids then don’t expect her to help with your business.

It’s your business. Run it like one. Not like a hobby.

Being organized. Calling your clients back in a timely manner. Handling any problems or concerns that your clients have in a timely manner. Those are all part of being in business.

If you can’t handle it…. Hire someone that can or go work for someone else.

Don’t run your business like a hobby or you won’t be in business long.

If you need advice on how to run a business there are consultants out there that can help you with everything from advice on employees, workflow analysis, marketing, your business image, organizing your business and anything else that you can think of.

Small businesses are essential. Don’t give them a bad name by providing bad customer service.



Organizational Consulting Services

www.organizationalconsultingservices.com

Monday, September 6, 2010

ARE YOU READY FOR A DISASTER ?

If you only had a few minutes to get out of your house for a disaster (such as a hurricane) would you be prepared for an emergency? Would you be able to grab your important papers and things you must have and be out of your house in minutes?

Do you know where all of your important papers are? Are they all in one central spot for quick and easy access in case of emergency?

Things such as:

* Drivers License (or other identification)
* Passport
* Birth Certificate
* Social Security Card
* House Insurance papers (or contact info)
* Life Insurance papers (or contact info)
* Marriage License
* Financial Info
* Money


What about some of your favorite possessions? Things that you can’t replace, such as photo albums?

Since most people keep a lot of information on their computer or laptop, do you have backups and are they up to date and in a spot that you can easily access?

Do you know what you would take in an emergency? Have you ever thought about it?

I’ve never been in situation where my home had to be evacuated, though I have been in a hurricane with no place to go (a very frightening experience).

If you are evacuated from your home and your home is destroyed you will have to deal with a variety of issues, including insurance issues, where you will have to prove your identity. Can you?

In an emergency people tend to grab the strangest things. Not always the most practical things.

So think about what you would do in an emergency situation where you had to evacuate (especially if you live in high hurricane areas).

Prioritize your possessions and what you really need to get back on your feet.

Get yourself organized before disaster strikes. And then hope that you never have to put your plan into place.

It’s better to be prepared for a disaster than to have to go through the trauma of dealing with things that you are unprepared to handle.



Organizational Consulting Services

www.organizationalconsultingservices.com

Thursday, September 2, 2010

National Preparedness Month

Being prepared goes hand-in-hand with being organized, and it is fitting that NAPO would be part of a nationwide event aimed at better emergency preparedness. NAPO has again joined forces with the Department of Homeland Security's Ready Campaign for the seventh annual National Preparedness Month (NPM), held during September. As a national coalition member for the fifth consecutive year, NAPO strives to educate the public through individual member and chapter informational events held during National Preparedness Month.

This year, NPM will focus on changing perceptions about emergency preparedness and will help Americans understand what it truly means to be ready for emergencies that may arise at home, at work, or in the world. Preparedness goes beyond fire alarms, smoke detectors, dead-bolt locks, and extra food in the pantry. Being Ready includes: preparing an emergency supply kit, making a family emergency plan, being informed about emergencies and their appropriate responses, and getting involved in community efforts. (reprinted from http://www.napo.net/)


Re-read our BLOG post from April on “Emergency Preparedness”.

http://professionalorganizer4u.blogspot.com/search?q=emergency+preparedness


Be safe - Be prepared.


Organizational Consulting Services

http://www.organizationalconsultingservices.com/

Monday, August 30, 2010

Seniors and Downsizing - Moving to a Smaller Home

Downsizing can be a tough process for anyone, but especially for seniors who find themselves with a large home. More and more are tackling the huge job of downsizing their living spaces. In fact, about six percent of Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 move each year, according to the Over-50 Council of the National Association of Home Builders. As seniors reach the time to downsize belongings and move into smaller, more manageable homes, many have a hard time figuring out what to do with all of the “stuff ” they’ve accumulated over the years.

To have a more simplified lifestyle many seniors decide to move to a smaller, more manageable home.

Following are some tips for seniors downsizing:

• Get rid of the guilt factor — Many seniors feel they are the “keepers” of their family heirlooms and have a hard time getting rid of items for which they no longer have room. And even adult “children” have a hard time with their parents leaving the “family home” thinking that their childhood memories will be gone forever.

Instead of waiting to give your children some of your possessions that you would most likely leave them anyway….give them these pieces now, especially if they are not being used on a regular basis. They will be able to enjoy them now and you will be able to watch them enjoy them!

If younger family members are not interested in taking the items then consider donating them to a worthy cause. Some organizations purchase furniture, high-end clothing, and porcelain, and then sell those items to raise money for specific causes or charities.

Professional organizers can help seniors sort through household items to strategically figure out what will work in their new space. They also can help seniors identify which organizations to turn to that are best at finding new homes for family heirlooms.

Find movers specializing in senior needs — Moving is stressful for everyone, but some moving companies specialize in making the transition easier for seniors, and professional organizers can help find the perfect “mover match” for a client. A professional organizer can help pare down items before the move and make the process easier at moving time.

Some professional organizers will also help with things such as helping the clients hang pictures on the walls for clients unable to do so themselves, handling the change of address and utilities, setting up electronics at a new home, and much more.

• Have a professional organizer reassess every five to ten years — As seniors get older, modern appliances or high shelving can become more difficult to use or simply unnecessary considering their lifestyle changes. Hire a professional organizer to evaluate and reassess your needs every five to ten years to make sure your home is still working for you.

For example, seniors who usually eat dinner alone should bring two to three sets of dinnerware to their level instead of keeping everything in out-of-reach cabinetry. Sometimes seniors don’t realize everyday activities and household chores can be made easier just by adjusting the setup in their homes. Professional organizers are great resources to help identify easy ways seniors can simplify to improve their overall quality of life.


Organizational Consulting Services

www.organizationalconsultingservices.com

Monday, August 23, 2010

INFORMATION ORGANIZING - MEDICAL AND LIFE

Most people don’t think about dying….or becoming seriously ill. It’s just too “real. Or “morbid

But if you have kids…thinking about protecting them with a “will” is not only important…it’s down right necessary !!!!

Maybe you are only 22 or 28 or 35…and will live to be 80 ! Maybe you are in “perfect” health. But what if another driver falls asleep at the wheel and runs a red light and totals your car?

What if ???

What if you aren’t as lucky as I was and you don’t make it? And I had my baby daughter I the car.

We were beyond lucky. I saw the car…I had the right of way. I knew they weren’t going to stop. But I couldn’t do anything…. There was oncoming traffic in the other lane and I had nowhere to go.

I was lucky. My daughter and I survived. With no injuries.

But what if you aren’t so lucky. And your child is left with no parent?

Do you have a "wil"l ?

Do you have a “health care proxy” ?

Do you have a “living will” ?

Do you have a “power of attorney” ?

Does anyone know where these documents are ?

Do you have your medical history documented somewhere?

Do you have a list of your doctors ?

Do you have a list of your surgeries ?

Of your medications ?

Of your allergies ?

Stuff happens……

Are you ready ?

Do you really want to take that chance ?

If you have a family….is it fair to them ?

Be organized… get your affairs in order….. and go about your life knowing that if anything happened to you, your family would know what you wanted and your kids would be protected.

It’s time to be a “grown up”.


Organizational Consulting Services

http://www.organizationalconsultingservices.com/

Monday, August 16, 2010

ORGANIZING FOR DIFFERENT TYPES OF PEOPLE

Most people don’t understand that organizing isn’t a “one size fits all” type of business.

Each client is different… in what they want, how they want it done, what they need to have done and how we teach them to become organized.

As a “Professional Organizer” I belong to numerous organizations, including NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers and NGGCD (National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization). I take my job and my “organizing” passion very seriously.

Most people don’t realize that organizers have certification programs and attend numerous seminars on various topics.

I have a “Certificate of Study in Chronic Disorganization”. Which means that I passed an exam and am serious about my “profession” and learning everything that I can about the subject.

When most people think about “professional organizers” they think about “closets”. Or now they might think about “hoarders”. Both of which I do.

But organizing is more than that.

Let’s just talk about closets for a minute. Think about “kids” ….those short people. They can’t reach very high. So when we are organizing a closet for a child we need to think about them being “vertically challenged”. But we also need to think about the future and the fact that someday … they will be taller and can reach higher.

Now let’s think about “seniors”. . Maybe they can’t reach very high because of arthritis. So the closet rods should be lower. And they can’t do a lot of physical labor for long periods of time… so your organizing sessions might need to be shorter.

See how closets aren’t just “standard” ?

Or what about people with ADD ? They don’t see things the way the rest of the world does. They might not “learn” the same. They might be “visual” people. So if you are talking about filing or organizing…they might not “get” the logic behind what you say. Or their attention span might be a lot shorter.

So you have to think of “different” ways to get your point across to them.

Or people that are in a “life changing circumstance” ? It could be someone that just lost a spouse or someone that is going through a “life altering” experience. They might not be able to make those “organizing” decisions as easily as they did before their life changing circumstance.

Or “hoarders” …… they aren’t just “messy”. They have a whole lot of “psychological problems” that you need to deal with or at least acknowledge.

“Organizing” isn’t a cut and dried service.

Organizers use different techniques for each different type of client.

And as an organizer it’s important to be continuously learning about the varying needs of our clients.

And as a client you should be able to depend on your organizer to acknowledge your varying needs and come up with solutions for “you” …. Not their “last” client.

The world of “professional organizing” is ever evolving. And we have to keep up.

Not only do we teach our clients about being organized…. but they teach us about “life”.


Organizational Consulting Services

http://www.organizationalconsultingservices.com/

Monday, August 9, 2010

ORGANIZING YOUR LIFE

Being “organized” isn’t just about clearing out the clutter in your closet. It’s about everyday life.

Being organized is a life style. It’s a life “choice”.

People can walk through life aimlessly. Going from one crisis to another with no plan. Or they can have a “life plan” and know what they want and how they are going to get there.

Don’t get me wrong… it’s not always easy. Even if you have a “plan” the road can be very rocky if not impossible.

But without a plan… a course of action… you will never get there and never achieve your goals.

It’s sort of like building a house. You have to decide what “kind” of house you want to build. What style? What do you want it to look like? How many bedrooms? Where are you going to put the windows and doors? What type of flooring? Who is going to build it? Who is going to do the electrical and the plumbing?

Lots of questions.

And you have to have answers.

The house won’t get built without your input and answers.

And after you make the decisions…. You have to live with the consequences.

So if you haven’t thought things out carefully you might end up with a window in your closet but no door to get in. Or the kitchen is not big enough for the subzero refrigerator that you wanted.

If you know your end goal and you have a plan for what you need to do to get there you can just check off each step as you go.

But if you skip ahead to the end….without a plan… you might be very disappointed with the end result.

Even with a plan you will need to be flexible and have “alternative” options. Because if you don’t and life throws you a curveball you might get too rattled to continue the game.

Life is a challenge. And sometimes you will need to ask directions.

Be prepared. Have a map. And a compass.

You never know when you’ll learn something new.

Organizational Consulting Services

http://www.organizationalconsultingservices.com/