Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holiday.... Merry Christmas.....!

Wishing you and your family a very HAPPY HOLIDAY  and a very  MERRY CHRISTMAS !

May your days be filled with peace and joy......

Organizational Consulting Services

Monday, December 15, 2014

Clear Your Clutter For The Holidays

I wanted to share a great poem written by another Professional Organizer. This should inspire all of you to clear your clutter before the Holidays!


'Twas just weeks before Christmas, when I looked 'round my house
And feelings were stirring that I couldn't douse.
The clutter was piled up in mounds all around,
And piles, dust and overwhelm all did abound.
No visions of sugarplums danced in my head,
Just feelings of angst and confusion and dread.
The papers were piled on the table so high
There's no chance of mealtime, I thought with a sigh.
I thought of the guests that would come all too soon
And started to panic and wish it was June.
Aackk! People are coming! Oh, where will they stay?
I must move this clutter. It's all in the way.
I want to have family and friends to enjoy,
To entertain, decorate, bake and…oh, boy.
"I meant to get to it", I heard myself whine,
But now it's December and I'm down to the line.
I thought I could do it myself if I tried,
But it was too much and my brain felt so fried.
I needed some help and I knew whom to call
A Professional Organizer who's on the ball.
My organizer friend was so lively and quick
Before I knew it I was ready for St. Nick!
She helped me to think in a rational way.
I still had some time; they're not coming today.

She settled me down and said, "You'll be alright.
Now take a deep breath and this clutter we'll fight.
We'll start in one room and just put things away
Stuff with no 'home' won't be able to stay."

We cleared and we sorted, we put things away
I was so glad I had not waited just one more day!
We purged and we sorted and made such a clatter
The donation bags just got fatter and fatter."
Soon tabletops showed up and floors all got cleared
There's so much more room now, it almost feels weird.
With Karen's help I got so much more done,
She's taught me the process, we even had fun.
I love it!  I said as I looked all around.
I couldn't believe all the lost stuff I'd found!
I'd managed quite well while the stuff was all lost
But realized I'd be fine if most just got tossed.
I could go on but I think I'll stop here
And wish every one of you holiday cheer.
Oh, and by the way, if your shopping's not done-
If you choose gifts that they'll want, need or use up, you've all won!

Karen here now, all done butchering this poem,
Wishing each of you joy and peace inside of your home.
And so I'll exclaim as I send my newsletter
Merry Christmas to all! Be a clutter go-getter!

© 2014 Karen Sheesley

Karen Sheesley
Straighten Up 
Organizing Services

Monday, December 1, 2014

Clear the Clutter - End of the Year Donations

It's now December and the shoppers are out in full force. Everyone is getting ready for more stuff to take over their homes.

I admit - I am not a shopper. There is only so much stuff that anyone needs (wants is a different story).

Yes - most people love to get presents.  But where are they going to put them?

No one actually thinks about that part of it. If you only have so much space - and you can't fit anything else in - something has to go!

That's not a bad thing!  People outgrow stuff (physically, emotionally or intellectually).  So let someone else have the pleasure of using the things that you don't need (or want) any longer.

There are people out there that can use the things that you don't need or want any longer.

Give back - do something worthwhile for someone else.  Help those in need when you have more than you need.

Before you go shopping - decide to clear out your closet of things that you can donate.  People change, needs changes.....  let someone else get the pleasure of things that you are ready to part with.

Get your kids to clear out toys they have outgrown. It will teach them to help others. And everyone knows they will get more toys anyway.

Before year end - take your donations to Goodwill or a shelter or a church...   Anywhere they will take donations.

Do something good for someone else - and your closet!

Clear Your Clutter and you will be surprised how freeing it really is!

Happy December!

Organizational Consulting Services

Monday, November 24, 2014

Holidays and Shopping - Should You or Shouldn't You ?

The holidays are just around the corner. The malls are busy with shoppers and even Santa has already made an appearance. Guess everyone forgot that Thanksgiving comes first!

I'll skip telling you that the holidays are about more than shopping - they are about family, friends and remembering the important things in life. The reality is - people are going to be shopping and buying and buying and buying.....  STUFF !

Everyone has good intentions. Everyone is trying to make all the people in their lives "happy" by buying them gifts.

But - is it really what they want?  Or are you buying what you want or think they will like?

People have so much stuff that they already don't know what to do with and really don't want - but they are afraid to tell you.

When buying gifts - think about the person (not yourself - not what you want - not your taste....). Will they really like it? Do they really need it? And the most important question -

                        " Do they have room for it in their home ???? "

If the person you are buying for has a small home or an apartment - they might not have room for your gift. If you have bought them things in the past - and you have never seen them wear it or display it - maybe you should re-think your selections.

A few ideas that take up little or no room:

*    Fruit baskets (healthy and something that people don't usually buy for themselves)
*    Any gourmet food that people would love to try and think it's too decadent to splurge on
*    Gift card for a service - massage, car wash coupons, movie tickets....
*    Coupon for babysitting, snow shoveling, grass mowing...
*    CD's or movies (add popcorn for a great evening)

There are a lot of options that take up little room and get used up quickly and don't leave a mess.....

Don't add clutter to someone's home.... just because you feel that you need to give them a gift. Think about what they really need - in the most simplest of terms - and you will be amazed at how much happier they will be when they don't have to pretend that they like the sweater that you bought them.

Happy Holidays! 

Organizational Consulting Services

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Holidays Are Almost Upon Us - Get Ready For Thanksgiving

It's that time of year again!  The holidays are fast approaching. Everyone is already in a frenzy.  The stores are bombarding us with advertisements and sales. People have Christmas lights up already and it's not even Thanksgiving!

Take a deep breath. And let's get through one holiday at a time.

Re-read this Thanksgiving article:

Thanksgiving  -  Organized and Stress Free  - Yes, It is Possible

Yes, “Organized“, “Stress Free” and “Thanksgiving” can be used in the same sentence.

It all starts with the word “organized”. Don’t let it scare you. Embrace it. By being organized and planning ahead you can actually enjoy a holiday.

Start by deciding on what you want your holiday to be like. Do you really want to serve a sit down dinner for twenty (20) people? Or would a buffet be acceptable for you? Would it be acceptable for your “family”?
The pressure of trying to please everyone, especially parents and doing things “exactly” like when you were little and everything was perfect is how the “stress” starts.

It’s your house and your dinner party. You can start new traditions. I didn’t say that it would be easy or that you wouldn’t get some flack, but all “traditions” started somewhere. Make your own. You deserve some happiness.

If you really want a fancy sit down dinner party but twenty (20) people is too much for you to handle then cut the guest list down.

If you really want all twenty (20) people there then maybe you should consider a buffet. It’s much easier and your family will eventually come to terms with the fact that maybe you aren’t serving a formal sit down dinner, but the food is just as good.

You can make Thanksgiving as simple or as complicated as you want….it all depends on how organized you are willing to be.

A good way to keep the stress levels down is to divide and conquer.  Enlist your family for help. Don’t take “no” for an answer. This is your holiday too and you have a right to enjoy it. And we all know that old saying  “if Mom isn’t happy, no one is happy”.

Start at least two (2) or three (3) weeks before Thanksgiving.

Decide on the type of gathering (formal or informal), the size of the guest list and the menu.

Don’t attempt to make something new for dinner or try out a new dessert that day. It could turn out to be a disaster and that would cause you more stress. If you really want to try a new dish….test it out prior to Thanksgiving.

Menu: Do you really want to serve cranberry relish and sweet potato’s even if you don’t like them and only serve them because “they are always served at Thanksgiving”?

Make up your own menu (yes, it is radical). Serve something different. Serve something you like!
If you are having a small Thanksgiving dinner don’t feel obligated to serve Turkey. I know, blasphemy! I once made stuffed Cornish Hen. It was wonderful and just as delicious as turkey. You can also stuff a small chicken or even a duck! Or be really different and have Ham! The possibilities are endless.

Start new traditions! It’s not easy to buck the system but once you make up your mind that you deserve to be happy and stress free on a Holiday you will wonder why you waited so long.

Remember, the whole point of a Holiday is family and friends and spending “quality” time together.

Everything does not have to be perfect. Be thankful for what you have and not for what you don’t.

A great piece of advice: don’t attempt to clean your oven Thanksgiving morning before you put in the turkey. I did that once, years ago in my new house, when I was young and anxious to please. I then found out that after the oven is cleaned it needs to cool down and the oven will stay locked for another hour or so after it’s done. And you can’t open it! It certainly put a dent into my dinner timetable!

By starting early and making lists and getting as much done ahead of time you will avoid a lot of stress.

Once you have your menu planned work backwards and make up a timetable to what needs to be done.
For example: if you want your dinner to be served at 6 p.m., what time do you have to put the turkey into the oven? What time do the potato’s and vegetables need to be started?  Just make a list and put it on your refrigerator door so that you don’t have to second guess yourself and aren’t panicking at the last minute.

When your family or guests start to arrive your mind and attention will be elsewhere….so a list can help you stay on track. Don’t leave anything to chance.

A few days before Thanksgiving:
* Shop for all of the essentials, including as much of the food as can be purchased ahead of time
* Make sure that you have enough spices and things that you will need for the food (and rarely buy)
* Do any of the baking or make any desserts that can be made ahead of time
* Thaw the turkey (the size will determine how many days it takes to thaw in the refrigerator)
* Buy the wine or any beverages

The day before Thanksgiving:
* Buy any last minute items at the grocery store
* Chop anything that can be chopped ahead of time (vegetables, bread for stuff…but do not stuff the turkey ahead of time) and put them in plastic bags so that you will be all ready to go the next day
* Make sure you have enough ice
* Prepare any of the food items that can be made ahead of time
* Make your family aware of exactly what you need them to help you with on Thanksgiving.
* Having assigned tasks for your kids and spouse ahead of time takes away some of the stress of what’s expected of them the next day.

The night before Thanksgiving:
* Set the table and get out all of your platters and serving dishes.
* Make sure that you have enough dishes and silverware. If you don’t, now is the time to call one of your guests and ask to borrow something. Don’t wait until the last minute to find out that you broke the gravy boat last Thanksgiving and never replaced it.

When I entertain I love to use all of my special platters and dishes. I love to fuss over my family and I love to set a very special table. I don’t consider it extra work or a hardship or stressful. It’s my way of telling my family and friends just how special they are.

But again…..the Holiday and family and friends are what’s important….not the china or the food. So if you aren’t the type of person to pull off a sit down dinner with all the decorations don’t beat yourself up. There are only so many Martha Stewart's around. And she has a staff to help her!

Thanksgiving Day:
* Wake up early so that you can have some “you” time to have coffee and relax before
the day starts (it will get stressful enough later, so the morning might be the only time you have)
* Read over your lists and timetable
* Gather all of your food and cooking utensils, pots and pans ....
* Measure out everything that you can ahead of time and set it aside
* Follow your time table and start making the food according to the schedule
* Once the food comes out of the oven let it rest a while (you can cover it with foil)
* Start cutting the meat and plating the food
* Have family members start their assigned tasks (setting out and serving food, pouring the drinks…)

ENJOY your meal…… sit and talk…..

After the meal:
Have a plan in place to clear the table. Since I always make a ton of extra food so that my guests can take home leftovers I start with portioning the leftovers into plastic containers and putting each family’s containers into a plastic bag and setting it near the door so that they don’t forget them.

Once I have the leftovers divided up and mine put away in the refrigerator and freezer I then start to collect the rest of the dishes and put them into the dishwasher. I don’t start the dishwasher until after they leave so that we won’t be bothered with the noise.

Again, this is where your family members can jump in and help clear and stack dishes. It makes quick work of things when you have other people help.

I need to have as many things cleared up and put away as possible before I start serving dessert. This also gives everyone time to rest and relax before they start eating again.

Some people like to leave the dishes and the mess until the next day. And sometimes I wish I could too, but it’s worse the next day when you get up and walk into a mess. I’d rather get it done and over with.

Make quick work of it (or as much as will fit into the dishwasher) and then sit and relax and spend time with your family.

Remember, a Holiday is supposed to be enjoyable. If it’s not, figure out why it isn’t and change it. Skip the big complicated meal, the fancy desserts and the good china and make it as simple as you are able to handle.

Start your own tradition….and make it about family!

Happy Holiday !

Organizational Consulting Services

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cold Weather - Is Your Closet Ready ?

In some parts of the country it's starting to get cold and a lot of people pull out their "winter clothes" and put their "summer clothes" into storage.

If your lack of closet space makes this a necessity then there are a few important things that you should do before you just start randomly changing out your closet.

First - be realistic. I know that it's hard - but it you haven't worn something in a few years - why put it back into your closet???  Because you "might" wear it?  Someday?

It is taking up space. And if space is at a premium - let it go. Donate it. Give it to someone that will actually wear it - more than once every five years!

Second, does it fit? Correctly? Be honest with yourself. Wearing ill fitting clothes does nothing for your figure or your self esteem. If it doesn't fit - off to the donate pile it goes.

Third, is it in good shape? No loose buttons, holes, rips....???  If not - fix it before you put it back into your closet.

Fourth, please, please put things in some type of logical order. Again - logical is all relative. It means in an order that you can find it easily and that makes sense. Everyone organizes differently. That's important to remember. But you have to have some type of plan that will allow you to put together outfits in a relatively short amount of time and you have to be able to find the clothes that you are looking for.

For example - sort by color, by type (long sleeve, short sleeve), by style.... any way that makes sense to you. But it should make sense.

Put all of your pants in one spot. Your dresses/skirts in another spot. Your shirts in another spot.

Divide your closet by casual clothes & work clothes.

There are many different ways to go about this. The only "must" is that it "must" work for you.

But just randomly throwing your clothes in your closet does not work for anyone - sorry. It wastes time when you are trying to find things and that turns into frustration.

In the spring/summer - when your closets are reversed - do the same thing. Clean, fit, no holes....and only the clothes that you will actually wear.

Enjoy your clothes and your organized closet!

Organizational Consulting Services

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Emergency Preparedness - Your Paper Trail

 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 / Credit Card info
* Phone numbers for family and friends
* Medical / Health Care information

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 have backups that are near all of your important papers that you can grab quickly?

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).

Start by thinking "what if...." and come up with a game plan. Locate all of your important papers and pick a spot where everything can be in one place and in an easy to grab container.

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

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Getting Ready for an Emergency - September is National Preparedness Month

It's almost the anniversary of  9/11. We should all be aware of the fact that disaster can strike anywhere. The question is "are you ready"?

Everyone should be prepared for an emergency. Whether it’s the loss of power and electricity (which could last for days) or a hurricane, earthquake or other natural disaster…. Or a terrorist attack…

Being prepared is not an “option” anymore. Even if just the electricity went out…and you happen to have an “all electric” home….would you be able to survive? Do you have enough food to last you for a few days? What happens if all the stores are closed?

These are just some things to think about….. especially if you live in a remote area and don't have quick access to a store.

There are numerous websites and articles that tell you to be prepared to survive for at least three (3) days if an emergency occurs. The “72 Hour Kit” as some people call it.

Besides the basic kit, you also need to have an emergency plan in place. Below is a basic list that will give you some ideas to get you started (there are numerous variations of this kit).

Basic Kit:

Water – one (1) gallon per person , per day for at least three (3) days
Food – 3 days supply of non-perishable food. Some ideas are: soup mix, granola bars, trail mix, crackers,
peanut butter, beef jerky, fruit cups….
Plastic / paper – plates, cups, napkins…
Radio – battery powered
Flashlight – with extra batteries
First aid kit – basic kit
Can opener
Garbage bags & plastic bags (various sizes)
Sleeping Bag
Clothes – for three (3) days
Coats & hats; rain gear; cold weather gear
Personal hygiene products such as: shampoo, lotion, razors, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, feminine
products, sunscreen…..
Wet wipes
Toilet Paper
Sewing Kit
Paper & pencils
Matches / lighter (in water proof container)
Basic tools (wrench, pliers, scissors….)
Water purification tablets (or Chlorine Bleach)
Hand Sanitizer
String / rope / cord
Cooking appliances (portable stove with fuel….)

Some things (like medications…) cannot pack ahead of time…so have a checklist prepared for those items.

Checklist for supplies that need to be packed last minute:

Prescription medication
Infant formula
Pet food
Family documents (passport, birth certificates, identification cards, bank info, insurance info….)
Games for kids

Start thinking about how you and your family would handle an emergency….and start planning for it today…before that emergency strikes.

Organizational Consulting Services

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Getting Your Kids Organized For School...and Life

School is about to start. Have you thought about your school year routine yet?  Don't wait until the morning of the first day of school to come up with a plan. Start thinking about your first day now and get ready.

The question now is "Do you have a calm and stress free routine ?".  If not, why not? The answer is probably because things are not as organized as they could be.

Come up with a routine and get your kids involved. Let them know ahead of time what time they will have to get up in order to have plenty of time to get dressed, make their bed, eat a healthy breakfast and get all of their school things in their pack backs and on their way.

By starting your kids on a routine and giving them responsibility for getting ready on time you have started them off on the right track to success in life.

Kids are never too young to start learning how to be organized. Kids as young as three can be taught how to put their toys away.

School age children should have a daily routine. Everything from getting up in the morning, getting dressed themselves, making their beds and getting their backpacks all ready for school. This includes making sure they have their lunches!

By making kids responsible for themselves they can start learning organizational skills. It also helps takes the pressure off of the parents.

Even though as a parent you might want to do everything for your would be doing them a disservice if you did. Don't you want your child to marry someone that can take care of themselves? Someone that helps around the house?

By teaching your kids some basic skills when they are young you are setting them up for success!

Kids love to learn new things. They love to think that they are in charge. Let them charge of themselves!

As a parent your job is to give the kids tools they can use in everyday life. Being organized is a crucial tool.

Parents, especially single parents, need all of the help they can get. Teach your child to be self sufficient and you too will reap the rewards.

And don't use the excuse "I am not an organized person myself".  I have a lot of clients that aren't organized themselves....but they know the right people to teach their kids various skills.

If you can give your child piano or gymnastics lessons.... you can give them "organizing lessons".  It's something they will use forever. Not that being able to do a cartwheel isn't important!

By starting young and having expectations from your children you are helping them be a better person. Their teachers, bosses and future spouses will "Thank You"!

Start Today..... Raise an Organized Child

Organizational Consulting Services

Monday, July 21, 2014

Clutter and Noise

You might wonder what clutter and noise have to do with each other. It's simple - clutter is a noise that disturbs you so that you can't function as well as you should.

Some people can work in a messy room. I can't.

Clutter doesn't bother some people. For others it's a problem.

Some people actually don't seem to notice a clutter filled room. Even when you say something to them about the mess. They just don't see it.

For others they wonder how you can find anything - much less work in a clutter filled room.

Clutter is a noise that gets louder and louder. Until you eventually can't stand it anymore.

That's when people usually call or write and say "help!".

People have to come to terms with how long they can handle the clutter and the mess before they do something. You have to be ready for change. You can't force people to change unless they are ready. It's only when they are ready that the changes will actually last.

When I walk into a clutter filled room it's like someone is screaming at the top of their lungs. When I walk into a neat and organized room I feel calm and relaxed.

It reminds me of going to the spa to get a massage. They have a little nook that is neat and cozy. They have soft music playing. I can sit and relax and a calmness comes over me.

When you walk into a room that is cluttered you don't have that same feeling.

Clutter causes your stress levels to rise. A clutter free space makes you feel calm.

If you can find one area in your home to be clutter free you too can create a space where you can feel calm after a long day at work.

Get organized - get clutter free.  Reduce your stress.

Once you have a few stress free moments you will have more energy to face the rest of your day.

Happy Organizing !

Organizational Consulting Services

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Favorite Organizing Tools

There are a lot of really great gadgets out there to get yourself organized. Some of them are really expensive. But spending more money on things doesn't mean that it will work better or keep you more organized.

Simplicity is the key.  And so is being inventive!

My most favorite (and cheapest and most versatile) organizing tool is - ZIPLOC !  I love Ziploc bags - for everything!

We just got back from a camping trip and having to have every little detail (and every meal) organized - and planned out -  Ziploc is your best friend!

I packed each meal in a Ziploc bag. All of the vitamins - in a Ziploc bag. All of the utensils, the napkins, the extra bags (always, always bring extra Ziploc bags when you go on a trip) - everything goes into a Ziploc bag.

Even the plastic containers of food - before they go into a cooler - go into a Ziploc bag.

Believe me - this will save you time in hunting for everything when you have everything in one easy to grab bag. The containers are protected from getting waterlogged in the cooler (one of mine had a leak).

I use Ziploc to capture all of the phone cords - so that we always have them in one place.

Then there are bags. Since everyone has gone to reusable bags there is an endless supply of bags. Use them to capture a 'grouping' of things. Snacks go in one bag. Cooking utensils in another.

You get the picture.....    "like with like" !

Of course - another favorite tool is "the list" - it makes packing fast and easy - and you don't forget a thing!

There are many simple tools out there that can make your life just a little bit easier!

Happy Organizing !

Organizational Consulting Services

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Do You Really Miss Your Stuff ???

People have more things than they really need. "Stuff" just turns into "clutter".

"But you need it" - you say ? 


When was the last time that you actually used it?

Being in transition and having a lot of our belongings still in boxes has made me realize that even though we downsized and we really did not have a lot of useless things that we never used - we really haven't been traumatized too much by not having those things that we thought we needed.

Downsizing, right-sizing, de-cluttering.... all make you realize that you have too much stuff and you really can live "without" those things.

So - try this experiment:  box up a bunch of stuff that you don't use often (or never) - and put it in the basement, closet, garage....for three months. At the end of the three months - if you haven't missed it - consider getting rid of it for good.

Donate it - give it to someone that might actually use it.

This experiment will make you think - about all the stuff that you really don't need.

Try it - you will be surprised at how you actually feel at the end of the experiment.

It might surprise you !

Happy Organizing !

Organizational Consulting Services

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Moving - Purge and De-Clutter First

It's almost summer.  School will be out soon. This is the time that a lot of people decide to move.

If you know that you will be moving - start making some plans. When else are you going to be able to go through your entire house and make some big, cleansing decisions????

Moving is not fun. Planning for a move is not fun. De-cluttering for a move is not fun.

But by being pro-active and doing a little bit of work (and decision making) each day - the day of your 'big packing' will be much easier.

If you know that you will be moving you should immediately start the de-cluttering, purging process. It will make your move much easier. And much lighter. Which in turn will be much less expensive. Because most moving companies charge by truck weight.

I have done many move unpacks for clients that have just moved into town and I am always amazed at the things they decide to move. Old, worn out things. Things that should have been left behind. Because when you are moving it might be the only time that you really think about how often you have actually used the item.

If you know that you are moving ahead of time start going through your house and get rid of things that you have never used, aren't using, things that are old or worn out. Now is the time. Not after you move. If your washer and dryer are 15 years old why move them? It will be cheaper to buy new, more efficient appliances once you move and you will also save money by not paying to move them. 

Go through your clothes and get rid of everything that you have not worn in a long time or is out of style. You may not have ever gone through your closet before this but now is the time. Why move things that you will not wear? If you are moving to a warmer climate and won't need those 25 sweaters...donate them. That goes for the snow ski's that you won't need in Miami. Or the treadmill that you have never used.

Get rid of everything that you can before your move. It will feel good! Really it will. You will wonder why you didn't do it sooner. And be sure to keep track of everything that you donate so that you can take a tax deduction.

Moving is a stressful endeavor. Try to make it less so by purging before you even think about packing.  

Remember - "if in doubt - throw it out".  Now is not the time to say "but I might use it (need it) someday".  The reality is - you won't. 

Why pay to move stuff that you will never use - and will probably end up throwing out once you get  to your new home.

Plan ahead - purge as much as you can and start fresh in your new home. A lot of times it will actually save you money. 
Remember: Less Clutter = Less Stress .... in your Home, your Business and your Life

Organizational Consulting Services

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Schools Out For The Summer - Almost

School is about to end for most schools. Kids will be cleaning out their lockers and bringing home - well, lots of stuff! Maybe even stuff that you didn't know that you were missing - like Tupperware!

They will also be bringing home lots of papers and other things that they have cleared out of their lockers, maybe even some clothes. If they are like most kids they will probably just dump it all in the hallway where they came in. And drive you nuts in the process.

So before you get too far into the summer take some time to organize the mess. And if you can, make the kids help. It is their mess after all!

First, throw out all of the garbage.

Second, take back your Tupperware, dishes, silverware...

Third, grab those clothes and throw them in the laundry. After they are clean, decide if they still fit or might still fit by the start of the next school year. Otherwise, into the "donate pile" they go.

Fourth, go through their papers and decide which ones you want to keep (things such as Art work or other papers you really want to keep). You might want to dispose of the other papers when the kids are not around. If you have a folder/box or notebook for each child you can put anything you want to save into their file (by grade).

Fifth, any extra school supplies that can be used for the next year can be put away in a bag and you will have a head start on shopping for the next school year. Be sure to keep a list of what you already have so that you don't buy duplicate when you get the rest of their school supplies.

Sixth, check the condition of their backpack and lunch box and toss it or put it away for next year (after a thorough cleaning of course!).

The mess is now gone and you can get on with our summer!

Have a great summer!

Organizational Consulting Services

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Organizing Your Life - for Others

Dealing with our eventual death is not something that anyone really wants to think about. But it is really important and something that everyone needs to do.

Being organized and leaving your family in a position where they know what you want and where all of your important documents are - is a gift. At a time when everyone is emotionally devastated - not  having to worry about trying to find things - is one less thing they have to worry about.

Losing someone always makes people think about their own life and always makes people uneasy.

So - do what needs to be done - for your family - and get your life and your important papers organized.

Do you have a will?

Do you have a "living will" ? 

Do you have a "power of attorney"?

Where is it kept?  Who knows about it?

Does someone have the contact information for your lawyer and doctors?  What about your insurance company and any insurance policies?

Does someone know where you bank and your bank account numbers?

What about a list of people to call - to be notified?  Having a list - with phone numbers - makes it easier for someone to let people know what's going on.

Keeping a record of all of the above information in one place is essential.  It might take a little bit of time to get all of the information in one place - but your family will be very appreciative in a very stressful time.

Another important thing to consider is your online presence. If you bank online - or pay bills online - do you have a list of passwords so that someone can close all of the accounts - or continue to pay your bills - such as mortgage payments, utility bills - until such time that you no longer need them.

Do yourself and your family a huge favor - organize your life. It will make things easier on everyone.

Organizational Consulting Services

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Organizing Your Garage for Summer Fun

It's almost May. The weather is beautiful and some of us have already started to get their gardens ready for planting.

So it's time to re-organize your garage and bring your gardening and summer sports equipment to the front of the garage and move all of that winter sports gear to the back!

It's time to summer-ize your garage and get ready for summer fun! A good place to start is by taking everything out of your garage and giving it a good sweeping.

Throw out any broken items and put any items that you no longer use in the "donate" pile. That would include any toys that your kids have outgrown.

Re-arrange your garage to put all of the summer gear where you can easily reach it. Put that snow blower and all of your shovels away for the season. Make sure that any of your equipment is thoroughly cleaned and ready to use by doing any maintenance that it might need before storing it.

Get those bike tired inflated and find your bike helmets!

By organizing your garage and bringing all of the summer gear to the front you will be ready to enjoy the weather without having to dig through your winter gear.

Organizational Consulting Services

Monday, April 21, 2014

Organizing - Start Small and See Where It Leads You

For those people that are "organizationally challenged" the thought of starting a project seems daunting.  If they can decide on which project to start with that is.....

And that's the first hurdle people need to overcome. Where to start?  

The answer - "where you want".  "Whatever area bothers you the most".

Most people tend to over think things. Organization is very important - but if you mess up - you can easily change things. It's not a matter of life and death (unless we are talking about hoarding).

There is no "right or wrong" place to start. Every client is different. Everyone has different priorities and needs.

As I've said in the past - "just start....".  Pick something - pick something up - and just go for it.

A Professional Organizer will usually have a plan - but for most people - the fact that they are organizing at all is a great first step. The step to having things in place, to finding things, to getting to work (or school....) on time. A step closer to being "de-stressed".

Once a person starts picking things up and clearing a space - they will - eventually - see what they are capable of. They will be able to see what is possible.

Once you get moving you might not be able to stop.  O.K. - maybe not everyone gets as excited about organization as I do - but it is contagious.  A cleared and organized space shows you that you are capable of being organized and hopefully will give you the incentive to continue.

Pick up the coffee cups and snack plates from the living room. Take them into the kitchen.

Pick up your clothes on the living room floor and bring them into your bedroom. No, they don't belong on the bedroom floor - put them in the laundry basket or put them in your closet (neatly, or course).

Pick up all of the magazines laying on the floor and put them into your magazine basket (or get rid of them - let another friend read them....).

Take anything that does not belong in the room - OUT of the room and put it where it belongs.

Start small - and see where it leads you!

Organizational Consulting Services

Monday, March 31, 2014

Working From Home - Organization Needed

A number of people work from home - either permanently or to get extra work done. Whatever the case may be - being organized and having a dedicated work space can make all the difference in how much work you actually get done.

In order to be effective in your job while working at home - you have to take it seriously.  That means no doing laundry or cleaning the kitchen between phone calls.

Working from home can be great but can also have its' challenges. You save money on gas and parking. You aren't stuck in traffic. You can be a bit more casual if you choose.

But you also have to be dedicated and not let all of the "home" distractions sidetrack your work. No sneaking off to watch T.V. or to chat with your neighbors. No letting the kids constantly barge into your office and disrupt business calls.

Even though you work from home you still want to and usually need to portray a professional image.

By getting into a "normal" routine - just like at the office - you have made the first step.

Have a dedicated workspace. Make sure that your space is functional and have all of your needed supplies within reach. Working at the dining room table usually isn't conducive to getting a lot of work done.

Make sure that your family knows when you are working and when they need to keep the noise level down.

Make sure that your neighbors know you really are working and that they can't just drop over for coffee whenever they want.

Keep the toys out of your work area. A professional workspace makes you look and a act more professional. It makes you more motivated.

Of course all of this depends on what type of work you are doing. More creative jobs have more leeway. But if you are running an accounting service out of your home you might want to be a bit more professional.

Have the proper tools available to get the job done. Have an organized and dedicated workspace. Have dedicated office hours.

Just like when you are at the office - you should take a break during the day and get refreshed.

Working from home has its advantages - just don't abuse them and you will be successful - no matter where you work. 

Organizational Consulting Services

Monday, March 17, 2014

Getting Organized - with Help - Don't be Embarrassed

Getting organized is a good thing !  Really!  But a lot of people are really embarrassed to call a Professional Organizer to help them. Why ?  Because they are embarrassed by their clutter or because they need help and asked for it.  Like no one should ever ask for help ?!

Everyone needs help with something - sometime in their life.   Whether it's calling a plumber or someone else to help you in your home. A Professional Organizer should not cause you embarrassment!

Not everyone is organized or can see quickly how to organize a room. Most people are not taught organizational skills as a child.

I can't fix a leaky faucet and I'm not embarrassed to admit it. I call professionals when I need the help and I know that they can do a better job (and faster and cheaper) than I can.

When I walk into my clients home a lot of them feel self conscious about their "mess".  I always try to make them feel better by letting them know that they are not alone - a lot of people have problems with disorganization.

And an interesting observation - they all think that their problem is the worst one out there. I've had people with extremely neat homes think they were messy and other clients who have kids think their home is terribly cluttered and disorganized.

It's all in "the eye of the beholder".

With kids comes clutter. There is no way around it. They usually have toys - which are usually strewn everywhere. That too shall pass! There are ways to contain the clutter. You can teach kids how to clean up after themselves.

And the people that have the neat homes - just need reassuring and maybe some fresh eyes to get things to work more smoothly in their spaces.

Everyone has a different idea of what an organized room (and life) looks like.  But the only person's opinion that matters is - yours.

Your home needs to function for how you live. Not the neighbors or an organizer. It has to be comfortable and work for - you.

A professional organizer should be able to come up with a plan that you can live with and that is easy to keep up.

So - don't be embarrassed by your clutter - get help when you need it.  When you are ready!

Happy Organizing!

Organizational Consulting Services

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

You Can Lead a Horse to Water....

I'm sure you've all heard the saying "You can lead a horse to water - but you can't make him drink".  Well - it's the same for organization. You can't make a person "get organized".  They have to be ready and willing.

I've heard a lot of rumblings lately about people's commitment to getting organized. And it's exactly that - "their" commitment. You can't force someone to want something - they may not really want or are not ready for.

This is very prevalent when it comes to spouses calling and wanting me to get their other half on board in getting them to "get with the program" and get their house organizedd.

It's not going to happen!  They have to be a "willing participant". Otherwise - it will cause a lot of other issues that have nothing to do with organization. 

Kids on the other hand - well - this isn't a parenting site - but if you don't have "expectations" for your kids - instead of  "excuses" - you will usually get the kids you created.

You have to teach your kids organizational skills - or you hire someone to do it for you. But - you still have to hold them responsible. You have to stop making excuses for them. When they grow up and go to work their boss will not care about their childhood - they want the work done. So don't set them up for failure. Teach them skills they can use forever.

The next excuse I usually hear is - "but I'm not organized - so I can't teach them the skills".  O.K. -  you've admitted that you don't have the skills necessary to teach them how to be more organized - just like I didn't have the skills to teach my child how to draw and be creative. That's why there are classes out there. Everyone sends their kids to soccer or baseball or dance classes - but when it comes to teaching them organizational skills - it never comes onto their radar.

Teaching kids and adults organizational skills is essential for their life. I've had clients that were not organized - but they wanted more for their kids - so I worked with them on teaching organizational skills - and they were like sponges - they loved learning.

You might not be able to convince your spouse/partner that they need to be organized - but you can teach your kids and start them on their way to a more organized life.

Lead by example - if not by doing it yourself - by acknowledging that you might not have the talent - but you know the value of learning.

Organizational Consulting Services

Monday, March 3, 2014

Paper and a Shredder

The number one issue for most people when it comes to organizing is paper.  There is too much of it.  It keeps coming in the mail.  The piles keep growing. 

So how do we control it?

With a shredder !!!

Everyone should have one.  For a variety of reasons.  The most important one is security.  With identity theft on the rise everyone needs to be extra careful of their personal identification. And that doesn't mean just their credit cards. That's actually the easiest part.

Most people just throw away "junk mail" - such as advertisements for credit cards or their envelopes for financial or medical information. This is "identity theft" waiting to happen.

Any identifying piece of mail - anything with your name on it - should be shredded.

Those "free" address labels that you get in the mail - shred them if you don't want them. Don't just throw them out into the garbage.

Any old bills should be shredded - not just thrown away in the garbage.

Magazines that have address labels on them - also have identifying information on them. Take the labels off before throwing them away.

Any bank statements - shred those. Never throw those in the garbage.

Sounds "logical" - yes, it is - but most people still just throw everything into the garbage. In this day and age with identity theft running rampant - don't take the chance.

A shredder should be in every home.  Not only for your protection - but also to keep the paper piles down.

Happy Shredding !

Organizational Consulting Services