Monday, May 22 2017
Do you struggle with how many or how much of something you should keep? This is a common problem many of my clients experience.
There is no clear cut answer to these questions but there are guidelines.
One of the most common guidelines is what you have and where you intend to store it. When I am evaluating a situation for my clients, I always take into consideration the space in which the item or items will live.
It is important to let your boundaries be your guide.
What do I mean by this? It's simple.
We all have boundaries we need to follow - whether it's on a personal level with other people or with our possessions.
Take for example your hamper. It's a boundary! When you fill it, you know it's time to do the laundry.
The same is true for many other spaces in our home.
Here are some examples for you to consider and incorporate into your home and in your life:
1. Clothes Closet - You need to make sure that your clothes hang and/or fold in an area that provides sufficient space so as not to crowd your wardrobe. It is easier to store your entire wardrobe in a closet to avoid having to do a "seasonal switchout", but that is not always possible. However, we do want to limit the size of our wardrobe based on the space in which we have to store it. This might mean downsizing it to make it work for you in an easier way.
2. Cabinets and Drawers - Whether they are in your kitchen, bathroom, home office, bedroom or bathroom, you need to be sure that they are not so stuffed with items, you cannot easily select what it is you want from them. Drawers should be able to easily open and close without items getting stuck. Cabinets should be set up neatly so you can easily see what they contain. Storing similiar items together will make it easier to find them.
3. Donation Bin - Every household should have them. I tend to use 18-gallon plastic containers. I especially like to use them in kids' bedrooms so that when they outgrow their clothing, they are easily identified and can be donated or passed on to another family member or friend. However, when the bin is full, you need to clear it out and start again! If you are storing clothing for a younger sibling to use. Containerize them by size.
4. Storage Room - This room needs to be as organized as any other room in the home that your family and friends see on a regular basis. It is not a dumping ground for everything you want to hide from public view. The use of storage shelves can go a long way in setting boundaries and zones for the various items you wish to store. Be sure to review this area on an annual basis to determine what might no longer be needed or wanted.
5. Garage - The same holds true for the garage as the storage room. It is not a dumping ground. Remember, the original intent of a garage is to store your car. Although there are other items that need storing, such as trash cans, recycling bins, bicycles, lawn care, tools, etc., you need to zone out the various areas and no exceed the size of the garage. You need to be able to easily navigate throught out the space so try your best to avoid filling the center of the room with items. Think vertically and use storage options that help keep your possessions around the perimeter of the room, instead.
Whether it is something as small as a clothes hamper or as large as a garage, pay attention to its boundaries and let them be your guide as to how much space you have in which to store your items.
If you need guidance or assistance in determining how to maximize the space you have or wish to utilize, don't hesitate to contact A Better Space. I am here for you!
Wednesday, July 01 2015
What should you do with all the extra stuff in your house that you don’t have room for? A lot of people deal with this by renting a storage unit and just dumping everything there.
Did you know that the self storage industry has been one of the fastest-growing sectors of the United States commercial real estate industry over the period of the last 40 years? I find that incredible!
Depending on the size of the unit, you can spend anywhere from $100 to $250 per unit per month. I have known several people who rent more than one unit. Multiply that by 12 months and you are spending at least $1200 a year to store your "stuff".
Personally, in most instances, I find the decision to rent a storage unit is just a form of procrastination, not a solution. It is, generally, a way to put off dealing with the inevitable; going through the items and making decisions about keeping, tossing, donating or selling.
A woman contacted me last month to talk about utilizing my services to help her declutter and organize her apartment. She was going away on vacation so we scheduled a consultation and first session for this week. When I confirmed the appointment the day before, as I always do, she told me she decided not to follow through. When I asked why, she told me she decided to just put her stuff in a storage unit.
But is this really the best solution?
When you have to rent a separate space outside your home to store all the stuff that you can’t fit inside, this is a "red flag" that you just might have "too much stuff"!
It’s one thing if the need is temporary (for example, when your house is being renovated, or you are staging your home and moving to another home), or if you truly have no room in your home for seasonal items, but some people rent storage units for years and years in order to hang on to things that are worth less than what’s being spent to store them. Does that make sense?
Wouldn't it be better to sell them, donate them, or just throw them out!
Think about it! On the off-chance that someday you discover you actually need one of the items you previously discarded, it’ll probably be less expensive to buy a new one than to keep the old one (and all your other junk) in storage for years and years.
Also, if you have something in storage that really is valuable to you (sentimentally or otherwise), why not honor it in a special place in your home, where it can be appreciated? How can you enjoy that item if it is stored in an outside unit and never seen? If you determine that you don’t have room for it, chances are there’s something else in your home that you could get rid of and never miss.
Always remember - Use the things that you use and enjoy today. Don't save them for “someday”. I call that "someday syndrome". That's when you think you’ll need something that you don’t want or need now. That can be an expensive decision.
So, to store or not to store - that is the question. What is your answer?
If you are contemplating renting a storage unit or already have one that you would like to get rid of, contact me. I can help save you money and honor the items you treasure today!
Thursday, August 21 2014
Not only do people need to have a home, but so does their stuff.
Interestingly enough, I was working with a client of mine the other day and we were discussing her cluttered closets in her home. She has clothes everywhere. Her dresser drawers are stuffed and she has clothes that she no longer likes or wears.
She asked me about helping her to create a laundry schedule because she feels she can not get a handle on it. Of course, I could help her with that. I have done it many times for many of my clients over the years.
She mentioned that she hates doing laundry. I asked "Why?", that the washer and dryer do all of the work. She said she agreed with that except for one thing. When it comes time to put the clothes away, she does not have a place to put them. Basically, her clothes are "homeless". There lies the problem. It's not the task that she dislikes, it's the frustration afterwards to try to put her clothes away; to give them a home.
It got me thinking. I have counseled clients over the years on how important it is to find a home for their things. It is beneficial in so many ways. Not only can you easily put things away, but you can easily find them when you want them. It is a tremendous stress reducer and applies to all aspects of your home. It eliminates procrastination in many instances.
Think about it. It is important to have a home for all of your paperwork in your home office, groceries in the fridge, cabinets and/or pantry, linens in the linen closet, clothes in closets and drawers, tools in the garage...the list goes on and on.
I have seen it time and again. When I work with my clients and we find homes for their possessions, they get an immediate sense of relief and reduction of stress. Their lives are made so much easier, just by being able to put things away where they belong.
So, I ask you. What items in your home are "homeless"? Are you able to find a solution? If not, contact me. I can help. My passion is to find homes for your possessions and reduce your stress so you can enjoy doing the things you like to do and have the time to be with the people you want to spend time with. You deserve A Better Space.
Let's knock out homelessness together!
Friday, July 26 2013
Do you rent a self-storage unit (or two) to store your "stuff"? Some of my clients do.
I have a theory about off-site self-storage. Basically, I believe they are great if used short term. They are very useful when you need additional space to store items that you are transitioning from one place to another, for example, after the passing of a parent. There are other examples as well.
However, I do not believe they should be used over the long term as they can become expensive to maintain. Calculate the monthly fee by 12 and see what you are spending over the course of a year. It is worth it or can that money be put to better use?
If you are going to rent an off-site self-storage unit, you should at least know what to look for.
With literally hundreds of local self-storage facilities in any given area, how do you choose one of another? Do you choose one closest to home, one your Aunt Jane's friend rented last year, the one you keep seeing advertised on television? You need to find one that best suits your needs.
DON'T GET CAUGHT UP IN ALL THE HYPE - When it comes to making a choice, hindsight is 20/20. Don't get caught up in the bright and snazzy colors on the bulletin board ads, local newspaper ads or elsewhere. Don't take your eye off the ball. The bottom line is service.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK - Seek out a knowledgeable customer service associate to help you. Make several phone calls and visit several locations. Ask lots of questions so you can make an informed decision.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION - Where are the various facilities located? Is it located in a congested area? You want to be able to get to your unit when you need to without hassle.
SAFETY AND SECURITY - Is the facility located in a safe location in case you need to go there at night? Is there 24-hour surveillance? Are there separate alarms for each unit? What kind of fire protection or sprinkler system is available? Is there climate controls such as air conditioning or de-humidified units available? Is there heat for colder months when your items might freeze?
ACCESSIBILITY - You want to be able to get to your unit and access your items at times that work best for you. What are their hours of operation and are there any restrictions on the times of day or days of the week you can load or unload your unit. If 24-hour, seven day admittance is important to you, make sure you find a company that can accommodate you.
TRANSPORTATION - Are there dollies or carts available on the premises or do you need to supply your own. Is there sufficient space to bring a U-Haul or trailer on the back of your vehicle to load or unload items?
OTHER THINGS TO THINK ABOUT - What size units are available? What are the various prices? Are there any discounts available? (Some offer the first month for a $1). What is the cancellation/refund policy? Is the facility insured for break-ins, theft, fire damage, water damage or natural disasters? What insurance are you required to carry? How do they handle non-payment (just in case you forget to pay your bill) and how long do you have to retrieve your items?
Renting a storage unit at a storage facility requires that you take the time to get the facts. Be sure that you are "Self-Storage Savvy" when it comes time to renting a unit.
My hope is that you eliminate the clutter in order to avoid having to incur this additional expense, but just in case, I hope this helps.
Until next time, I wish you an organized day.
Monday, July 01 2013
Is there such a thing as a fake de-clutterer? Yes, there is!
As crazy as it might sound, it's true.
Do you find that you are telling people you are organized, but instead you are just moving the clutter from one room to another? This is not de-cluttering. De-cluttering involves the elimination of items that are no longer needed or wanted, not just moving them around. You still end up with the same amount of things, they are just located elsewhere.
Does your home appear neat and organized until you open up a closet door and it is crammed with stuff? This is not de-cluttering. It's hiding. Even your closets, drawers and cabinets should be clutter-free. How many sets of linens or towels do you have? How much clothing is crammed into your closet that you don't wear? Is your pantry filled with expired food?
Is the first floor and second floor of your home in good shape clutter-wise but your basement is another story? Is your garage a dumping ground for the items you just don't know what to do with?
Even if you have items categorized and neatly organized in plastic containers or boxes, you can still have clutter.
Do you just have too much "stuff"? Perhaps you have a container with hundreds of twist ties. There is no problem keeping a certain amount, but you need to pay attention to the quantity of like-items you are keeping.
For example, do you have a lifetime supply of pens, pencils, notepads, grocery bags, hotel shampoos and soaps? (Just to name a few.) Anything in abundance can be considered clutter.
Keep in mind that you are not ridding yourself of clutter if you simply move things around to different locations, hide it or make everything look neater. It's still clutter. If items are useful but not being used by you, that's clutter too.
Here's what you can do:
1. Figure out why you are keeping certain items.
2. Think about the purpose of each item.
3. Create a plan and take action.
This doesn't have to be a difficult process. If it seems overwhelming to you, that's okay. With the help of a professional organizer like myself, you can eliminate that clutter and get organized once and for all. Don't be a fake!
Enjoy the upcoming 4th of July holiday and declare your independence from clutter! If you need my assistance, don't hesitate to contact me. I am here to help.
Monday, June 03 2013
It's very common to add more to our lives by adding something - a bigger home, more clothing, more decorations, more, more, more...
However, the funny thing is - less is actually more.
Last weekend I decided to declutter and organize my own home. I had been spending so much time helping others get organized, I was neglecting my own space. Over time, things built up and it was time to do something about it.
Being a professional organizer, I know all too well that less is more. When you clear out the clutter in your home and in your head, you clear out the clutter in your life.
Sometimes, our clutter means that we have too many time commitments.
I decided to commit Memorial Day weekend to my own home and did not commit to any social activities. I knew that if I committed this block of time to this project, I would be able to enjoy the rest of the Summer. That was my motivation.
I systematically went through my home, starting on the second floor and moving down to the first floor, one room at a time; just like what I do when working with my clients when they hire me to organize their homes. I cleaned, I decluttered, I organized. I worked 12 hours a day for two days. It was a lot of work, but, oh, it felt so good! During this week, I am going to work on my basement and storage room. Then, my entire home will be organized!
Here are four steps you can take to create more with less:
1. Enlist an "accountability partner". Select someone who is committed to supporting you and perhaps creating change in their own life. This "accountability partner" can be a friend, family member or even a professional organizer like myself to keep you focused and moving forward.
2. Make a list. Break down the various areas of your home that you wish to tackle and create a chronological list so you can check them off as you go and get that wonderful sense of accomplishment at the end. As you think of things you need to do or want to purchase, write them down as well. This will keep you on track.
3. Subtract as you go. Look closely at what you have and eliminate the excess. It could be clothing, paperwork, old linens, pantry food items, etc. Take the time to truly evaluate what you need and will use. Don't create excuses for keeping something you know you will never use.
4. Find the additions. This does not mean that you find more stuff to keep. It means finding the joy in having less. Celebrate your successes by inviting people over to see what you have accomplished. Enjoy your new space and "live" in your home. Your have now created more space for good things to enter your life.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of getting organized and need assistance in creating a home you enjoy living in and are ready to eliminate your clutter, once and for all, contact me. I can help you to create a step-by-step system so you can have A Better Space.
In the meantime, have a great week!
Monday, February 20 2012
For those of us in the northern hemisphere, the winter has been somewhat mild this year and we might not have had the opportunity to wear those very heavy wool sweaters, our fur lined boots and heavy winter coats.
If you are anything like me, that's quite all right. However, it does not mean that it's not time for that mid-winter check to see what we have used or what we wanted to use but because of the warm temps this year did not get to use.
This is a good time for you to go through those winter-related items and donate the excess to charity. You will free up space in your home and provide others in need with items they can use to make it through the rest of the winter comfortably, by donating them to a local charity.
Take some time to check out the following:
Blankets - Are there blankets in closets or in a cedar chest that you have not used in the past several years?
Sweaters - If you haven't worn certain sweaters by now, will you wear them by the end of the season?
Hats, gloves and scarves - If you have children, do their hats and gloves still fit them? Do you just have too many that have accumulated?
Coats - Just like your sweaters, if you haven't worn that coat this year, are you going to wear them by the end of the season?
Boots - If they are still in good condition, someone in need could use the ones you no longer wear. Are they not comfortable, out of style, not your favorites?
Outdoor recreation items: Have you checked your collection of snow shovels lately? Did you purchase a new one and not get rid of the older one? How about your sleds, toboggans or ski equipment? Don't have them take up additional space in your garage or attic if you are not using them anymore.
Decorations: Is there any holiday or winter decoration you didn't put out this year? You can sell them on Ebay, Craigs List or give them away thru Freecycle. See if any local day care centers can use some of them.
Eliminate the excess by either selling the items, donating them to a charity or giving them away thru Freecycle or to a local entity. Someone else will be glad to have them.
Let's make space for Spring! It will be here before we know it.
Thursday, June 09 2011
School is letting out soon, if it hasn't already, the kids are home and the toys are everywhere! What is a mother to do? Get organized, of course!
All those summertime toys can get out of hand if we do not have simple tools in place to keep them under control. A few rules for the kids to follow is helpful as well.
First, I want to go over some simple tips that you can begin to utilize immediately to keep all those toys under control.
1. Limit the number of toys your child owns. This might seem like a no-brainer, but those toys have a way of multiplying before our very eyes. I suggest that you start off by evaluating what your child already has before making any additional purchases. When you have a good handle on what they already have, you will avoid duplicates and lots of toys that are similar. Look to see if any toys are broken or if your child has outgrown them. If you are not sure what they want or don’t want, hide them away for a while and see if they ask for them. If they don’t, consider donating them, if they are still in good condition, to a local charity or selling them at a garage sale. (If you need tips on how to have a successful garage sale, I can help you with that.) This will be helpful when you are trying to decide what type of storage you need for the toys you want to keep, as well.
2. Be selective. When we are in the store, with or without our kids, we see those "bright shiny objects" that we just know our son or daughter has to have. Try to avoid temptation and be more practical. Consider purchasing toys that are most beneficial to your child; that promote imagination and creativity. Make sure your purchase is age appropriate.
3. Don’t buy toys that take up a lot of space and are difficult to store. I know that this can sometimes be a challenge, especially with outdoor toys. They tend to be big, plastic and oddly shaped. I would suggest limiting the amount of items that fall into this category and consider purchasing toys that can be more easily stored. If your child insists on big toys such as a play tunnel or a play house, make sure to purchase the one which can be disassembled easily and stored compactly, if at all possible.
4. Stop giving toys as gifts. It’s their birthday. What is the first thing most people think to get the kid - toys! However, when you get to the point where you have enough, stop! Don’t buy any more! Give your child a gift card for a restaurant or an activity they can enjoy, instead. Also, ask those relatives and friends who want to always supply your kids with toys, to purchase something else instead. I truly believe your child will get more out of spending a day doing a fun activity with you at an amusement park, gym or at the movies. It’s a better alternative than filling your backyard and garage with more toys!
5. Create a system for organizing toys. One of the first things you need to do is review some simple rules with your children when it comes to cleaning up their toys. Although having a good system for storing toys does not guarantee that the toys will not invade various places in your home, regular clean up is necessary to avoid having toys scattered all around the house, inside and out. Train your children to put their toys away.
So now that we know what toys we have, we are now ready to find solutions for putting them away. There are many options available, especially when it comes to outdoor toy storage. Here is a list of options to consider:
1. Bike racks to keep the bikes from laying all over the garage floor;
2. Sports racks to hold basketballs, soccer balls, baseballs, hockey sticks and bats. A good wall mounted sports ball holder can be found at ww.ballclaw.com
3. Deck boxes for larger items. (These can also be used to store outdoor chair cushions and umbrellas as well as pool equipment.)
4. Big plastic toy boxes such as those sold by Little Tykes.
5. Rubbermaid containers with lids.
6. Milk crates or laundry baskets to carry toys as they are being picked up.
7. Pop up net laundry bags to hold small balls and other items.
8. Large trash cans on wheels for larger sports equipment.
9. Back packs to store a swimsuit, towel, sun screen, flip-flops, etc.
10. Labeled bins for the younger children to easily sort their things.
We all know that it can be difficult at times to keep that toy collection under control. Without a good toy storage system in place, the toys will undoubtedly take over. Having a good system in place for storing your toys is one way to ensure that your home and yard are kept organized and you can enjoy spending more time there.
Lastly, enjoy your summer. It goes by quickly!
Sunday, April 03 2011
Spring has finally sprung! My gorgeous crocus have bloomed and the hyacinth are following shortly.
With the weather slowly getting warmer, it's time to get out of the house - and into the garage. Everything has been stashed in there all winter and it's time to make some sense of it all.
Making use of your driveway as a staging zone is best. Empty everything out of the garage, section by section and consider the following tips for getting it organized:
- Hang your tools from hooks on a pegboard over a work table, using labeled screw top jars or a drawer system for separating out small pieces of hardware.
- Set up shelving around the perimeter of your garage for storing small items - such as car care, gardening supplies, paint, etc.
- Store small gardening items such as gloves, hats, trowels and clippers in a basket with a handle to make it easy to carry them back and forth to the yard.
- Use heavy duty hooks on the ceiling or wall to hang bicycles, sporting equipment and ladders to get them off the floor.
- Keep a mat or low shelf by the door leading into the house for holding muddy shoes to keep dirt from getting tracked inside.
- For the kids (and even adults!), create a zone where all the sports equipment, balls, lawn toys and beach paraphernalia can be stored together. Out of season, they can be stored on racks hanging from the ceiling to create more space for the car.
- Make vehicle maintenance easier by storing your car care products in a large plastic bucket, along with rags, sponges and paper towels.
- Remember to leave enough room on either side of the garage so you can open your car door without bumping into shelving, tools or bicycles. (The garage IS intended to store the car - after all!)
If you need further assistance in getting this or any other area of your home organized, don't hesitate to contact me.
And enjoy your Spring!