Monday, November 29, 2010


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

Monday, November 22, 2010


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:

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

Organizational Consulting Services

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

Saturday, November 13, 2010


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


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!


Organizational Consulting Services

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thanksgiving advice

Thanksgiving is right around the corner.

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


Monday, November 1, 2010


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