Monday, August 29, 2011

Hoarding Is Still Out There

A lot of people think that Hoarding is starting to go away because more people are now aware of the problem. But it's not.

I have been getting a lot of emails and phone calls from families of hoarders that are looking for help. They worry about the health and safety of their family members. And they should worry. But it's not only the physical health problems that they worry about. It's the psychological problems and how they affect the family.

Many people out there have family members that are hoarders but it's still a well kept secret. Because if they told someone then their friends might think that they too have mental health issues. But it's not something to be ashamed of. Just as you can't control your family and friends in other aspects of their lives, you can't control people that have hoarding issues.

They have to be the ones that ask for the help. They have to be ready to try and change their lives. They have to be willing to part with some of their possessions and clean up their homes.

It has to be on their terms. If you or a family member just go into their home when they are not there and clean up and throw out what you term "worthless garbage" you will cause severe emotional harm to that person.

It is a hard concept for families and friends of hoarders to understand. But just going into someone's home and taking their possessions - no matter what the conditions of those possessions are - you will cause emotional distress.

How would you like it if they came into your home and took your stamp collection or your Hummell collection or your 50 pairs of shoes because they thought it was a waste of space and money? It's not the same you say? Well, to hoarders it is.

Everyone has a right to their "things". Unfortunately, hoarders "things" can cause them harm because of the quantity of things. And because the quantities are out of control and can cause physical harm. And because hoarding can cause isolation.

But that does not mean that you rush in to "save" them. It takes a person with experience in the many aspects of hoarding to be able to help a hoarder. And it usually takes a variety of people to help a hoarder and that may include a professional organizer, a therapist, a social work and a variety of other people.

Hoarding is a complex issue. It can't be solved by simply "cleaning out the house".

As a Professional Organizer I take my education very seriously and have acquired the following certificates:

Certificate of Study in Chronic Disorganization
Certificate of Study in Basic Hoarding Issues with the CD Client
Certificate of Study in Understanding the Needs of the Elderly CD Client
Certificate of Study in Basic ADD Issues with the CD Client
Certificate of Study in CD Client Administration
CD Specialist - Level II Certificate

Monday, August 22, 2011

Getting Ready for School

It's almost time for the kids to get back to school. Most parents are happy, kids, not so much.

But the end of summer vacation is drawing to a close and parents and kids have to get back to their reality. That means getting up on time, getting dressed in something other than shorts and t-shirts, having their backpack and homework plus all of their signed parent notes all together and in their backpack.

Sounds easy enough. Yet the usual scenario is more like chaos with stressed out parents yelling at their kids for not being ready on time and kids yelling because they can't find their shoes or their favorite shirt.

So get a head start on being organized for the school year by talking to your kids about the upcoming start of school. Make sure that you have gone over a list of what they need, from clothes and shoes, to backpacks, lunch bags and school supplies.

Then their is "the schedule". Make sure that everyone is on the same page as to the upcoming new schedule. Getting up earlier, getting ready on time, who needs the shower when... yes, some people have to plan out a detailed scheduled to make things run smoothly. Unless of course everyone has their own bathroom (we all aren't so lucky).

If you have your backpack from last year, make sure that it is cleaned out and ready to go (this should have been done at the end of last school year, but if it wasn't now is the time). Make sure that there is a "place" to put backpacks and anything else the kids might need to take to school. A cubby for each child by the door or hooks or whatever works for you. But have a designated spot and make sure that the kids stick to it. There is no reason that they should be scrambling every morning looking for things.

Now is the time to talk to the kids about a new "organized" procedure for the school year. Make them unpack their schoolbags every night and go through any notes that you, the parent needs to sign, have them do their homework and immediately put it back into their schoolbag and then put the schoolbag by the door (or the designated spot).

By implementing an organized routine you have a better chance of not getting that phone call about the missing homework or the missing permission slip.

Kids need structure. They need a routine. And so do adults.

Being organized makes mornings much easier and stress free.

Enjoy the last few days of summer vacation and start your school year on an organized note.

Organizational Consulting Services

Monday, August 15, 2011

Organizing Your Junk Drawer

Admit it. You have a junk drawer. Don't be embarrassed. Everyone has one. Some are just more messy than others.

But today is the day to clean it out. Yes, you have to clean out that drawer. Come on, you can do it.

I know that you are thinking "how did this drawer get like this" or "why is this stuff in here and what is it?". Well, we all keep things. "Because we might need it". Bits and pieces of stuff.

Start by getting a garbage can and putting it next to the drawer. Take out each item and if you can't identify it or it's use, throw it right into the garbage can.

Anything that you think you might really have a use for (be honest) should be placed into a pile on the floor. If you can't remember why you kept the item, get rid of it because you probably don't need it. Next, try to place like items together.

The reason that most "junk drawers" look "junky" is that everything is usually just in one big drawer, all jumbled together. Depending on what you have in the drawer and the sizes of things you will want to get some dividers to keep things more organized.

There are numerous inexpensive options such as small plastic trays or ice cube trays that will do the trick. Any container will do. I have used the boxes that my checks came in as divider trays for my desk. Be creative. You don't need to spend a lot of money for this drawer.

By keeping things confined in smaller spaces within the drawer it will look less "junky".

And try to break the habit of just throwing things into the drawer because you don't want to find a place for it. Your junk drawer should be confined to a drawer, not the entire house.

Organizational Consulting Services

Monday, August 8, 2011

Organizing Wishlist

A lot of people wish they could be organized.

They wish that their home was neat and clutter free.

They wish that everything had a place.

They wish that everything was perfect just like on those decorating T.V. shows.

Well, what's wrong with wishing? Nothing!

But why don't you take it one step further and make that wishlist a reality?

Start by making an actual list. Write down all of the things that you dream of doing. Go ahead. Dream. Just start writing.

Give it a few days and write down as many things as you want to on that list. It's your list.

Then prioritize your list by what bothers you the most and what you would like done first, second ...and so on....

Now here comes the hard part. Step back and be really, really honest with yourself. Ask yourself why the things on your list bother you and why you haven't accomplished them. By doing this you might rearrange your priorities. Something that you thought was a huge problem might move down on the list.

Then take your calendar and pick a date to accomplish your first wish. It could be as simple as "I want to de-clutter my basement". Maybe you haven't organized it because no one could see it but it really bothered you. Well, now you have a date on your calendar that you want it done by.

As I said, don't overthink it. You are working backwards. First, you pick a "due date". Next, you make a list of exactly what you want to accomplish in the basement. Such as "clear out the old toys or excercise equipment you never used" or "organize your tools". Maybe you want to convert the basement into a playroom or workroom. What do you need to do to accomplish that?

Keep making your list and break it down into smaller pieces. Put a due date on each piece.

By doing this you are giving your home the same importance as you would give a project at work. You have deadlines to meet, therefore you are more apt to get it done.

And don't you deserve to have a nice home? Organized and clutter free.

By putting your wishlist on paper and then onto your calendar you are motivating yourself.

And once you are motivated you will find a way to get it done.

And once you are done with your project.... you will want to go down your list and cross off the next project. And before you know it your wishlist will be finished.

But you have to start by making your list. So go ahead. Start wishing.

Organizational Consulting Services

Monday, August 1, 2011

Kids, Clothes & Charity - How Are They Connected ?

I know that most people don't want to think about the summer coming to a close and everything that it entails, but being organized means thinking ahead.

The end of summer means the start of the next school year.

The start of the new school year means new clothes for the kids.

And that means that you will be taking their old clothes (and I mean clothes that don't fit, not tattered clothes) to Goodwill or another charity that could use them.

Kids outgrow things. Sometimes too quickly. You turn around and the next thing you know they are 4 inches taller than when they got out of school in June. It happens! So you have to buy them new clothes.

But before you just randomly go to the store and buy everything in sight you need to go through their closet and drawers and take an inventory of what they really need, not just want they want. BUT, you need to get them involved in the process.

This is not always fun for the kids and they will probably fight you on this, because they have better things to do than go through their clothes, things like playing outside or being with their friends. But as a parent this is a "teaching" moment. You are teaching them how to make decisions, how to organize their closet and drawers, how to recognize when clothes don't fit and the biggest lesson of all is why it's important to donate things that you no longer need to a worthwhile cause. And of course you know that you get a tax write-off.

Once you have gone through their closet and had them try on all of their clothes and put them into piles of "keep", "donate" or "trash" (because they were too worn out to donate) it's time to make a list of exactly what items they will need.

Making a list is very important because it will save you time and money at the store. You won't remember how many socks they had and they will try to get you to buy things that they don't really need.

Once you have the "needed items" (socks, underwear, pants...) you can look at "extras" but try and keep it in perspective. They don't need twenty pairs of jeans or twenty new pairs of shoes. Kids outgrow things very quickly.

By starting when they are young and helping them understand the concepts of "moderation", buying only what they really need and also buying only what they have room for, you are teaching them skills they will use their entire life.

Get into the habit of going through their closets at least once a season, especially when they are young and growing like weeds. And by the way, why don't you clear out your closet at the same time. You would be setting a great example!

Happy Closet Organizing!

Organizational Consulting Services