Friday, February 15 2019
We live in a fast paced world these days and it seems we never find the time to slow down and relax.
Every day we have a list of things we need to get done. Whether it's at work or at home, the list goes on and on. It can be exhausting.
I have worked with many clients over the years to teach them the tools they need to be successful at creating balance in their life.
Here are some quick tips you can use to begin learning how to create that balance:
1. Create a list of everything you need to do. Just get it out of your head and onto paper or, if you prefer, an electronic method such as your computer or phone. Whether it's a quick phone call or planning a party, write it all down.
2. Select a limited number of things each day. The tendency is to clog our schedule with more things than we have time to do. When we don't get them accomplished, we feel like we've failed. Instead, pick only a few items, but do this on a daily basis. Think about it. If you accomplish only three things a day, you've accomplished twenty-one in a week!
3. Determine the amount of time you have to accomplish your To Do's. Don't commit all of your time every day to getting things done. Determine whether you can be productive for two hours, one hour or even a half hour where you can focus, without distraction or interruption to get things done. If you accomplish your short list of goals and feel you can do more and have more time, go right ahead. Not every day will be the same.
4. Reward yourself. After you have completed your short list of To Do's that day, reward yourself. Take a half hour or even 15 minutes to do something that you enjoy. You could read a book or magazine, call a friend, take a relaxing bath; whatever makes you feel good about yourself.
5. Rinse and repeat. Make this process a daily habit. In one week's time, you will see that you are accomplishing more and have less stress because you are creating balance in your life. You are getting things done and still finding time for yourself!
I have incorporated these habits into my own life over the years and, trust me, it works!
If you need assistance in creating a more balanced life like I have, let's set up a time to talk about how you can reach your goals. Customized time management coaching is the key to your success!
Tuesday, January 22 2019
We are about a month into Winter and I'm over it already. I am not a fan of bone chilling temperatures, snow, ice and high winds. This week has put me over the edge. I am counting down until my mini get-away in the later part of February. (Honestly, looking forward to it keeps me going until Spring arrives.) I need a taste of Summer.
Are you planning a trip somewhere warm this Winter to get you through?
Before heading off on your vacation, here are a few things you can do so you don't come home to any unwelcome surprises:
1. Water Heater - Set it to the lowest temperature to save energy. New models may offer a vacation mode or wireless control.
2. Thermostat - Adjust it close to the outside temperature but no lower than 50 degrees. (You don't want your pipes to freeze.) In the Summer, you don't want to let it get too hot in the house. If you have wood floors, they can warp. If you have a wireless system, adjust it to it's normal temperature a few hours before you arrive home so it is comfortable when you return.
3. Electronics - Unplug appliances from the wall outlets (or use surge protectors) in case of any electrical issues. This will prevent the potential for an electrical fire.
4. Water - Turn off valves to your dishwasher, washing machine and sinks to avoid any leaks. After you return, you might find air in the pipes when turning the water back on, so do it slowly.
5. Mail - Arrange to have your mail held at the post office until you return home or have someone come to your home every day to bring it in the house. You want to avoid having your home look like no one is home for a long period of time.
6. Newspapers - If you still get a daily newspaper, contact the carrier to put a hold on your delivery until you come home from vacation or have someone bring your newspapers into the home.
7. Neighbors - Make a trusted neighbor aware that you are going out of town so they can keep an eye on your home and look for any suspicious activity. Give them a key and a code to the alarm system, is necessary. Show them how to reset the alarm upon leaving, if need be.
8. Deliveries - Make sure you do not arrange to have Amazon or any other online store make deliveries to your home while you are out of town. With package theft at an all-time high, you don't want packages being left on your porch or at your front door for an extended period of time. (Not to mention damage caused by inclement weather!)
9. Social Media - Resist sharing on Facebook that you're going away if your home is going to be empty and tell your kids to do the same.
10. Timer - Keep one or more lights on a timer in your home that are visible from the outside. Set them to go on at dusk and then turn off shortly before your normal bedtime. This is another way for it to look as if someone is home when you're not.
Be safe and have a great time on your vacation!
Wednesday, January 16 2019
Another year is underway. Have you made any resolutions? (Honestly, I hate that question.) I don't make resolutions anymore because I have a tendency to fail. I stop exercising after about a month, I start eating more desserts than I should after a few months of eating healthy. It's just too much pressure!
Instead, I set a goal or an intention. I find I am much more successful that way and it makes me feel much less pressured.
Last year, my goal was to declutter and upgrade my entire home, from top to bottom. Yes, one whole year to do so. I focused on one room a month, for twelve months. I planned it out in great detail at the beginning of the year. I decluttered what needed to be, did some cosmetic upgrades and tweaked some organization in my home. By year's end, I was thrilled with the results.
Although I did not get to the basement like I had planned, (mainly because some things took longer than expected), I am setting a goal for the next two months to finish decluttering and organizing the entire basement. With being as busy as I am, this goal is reasonable and achievable.
This year, I decided to have a theme. I decided to name my theme for 2019 "Use What You Have". I am fortunate to live in a nice home and have what I need. Last year's project re-aquainted me with all that I have. I realized, I have enough. As the saying goes "Enough is enough". I am going on a buying diet. I am going to focus on using what I already have, instead of purchasing more. This is especially true for me when it comes to clothing and shoes. I am resisting the urge to purchase more and simply use what I have.
I plan on making more use of my serving dishes and trays, which have been stored away since my wedding in 2002 and infrequently used.
I plan on burning the candles I have been storing. I love candles and love to use them but I have aquired a lot and have not made it a habit of burning them. Now I will!
I plan on reading the books I have aquired without getting more. This is particularly true for my fiction books. I love books! People give me books! I can't resist accepting their offers to take their books they no longer want. I have enough!
Honestly, now that I am in my late 50's, I recognize that I have to be honest with myself and need to make sure I will have enough time to get to make use all of my possessions. Trust me, storage is not an issue. I have plenty of room, but, I don't want to run out of time before I have used what I have.
Hopefully, this is food for thought. Is it possible for you to go on a purchasing diet, like me, this year, and "Use What You Have"?
I am curious as to what you believe you have enough of and what you can avoid purchasing more of this year. Post a response to this blog below and share your thoughts. Let's all inspire each other to Use What You Have.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with too much stuff in your home and want to simplify, don't hesitate to contact me.
I am here for you!
Friday, January 11 2019
Happy New Year!
Admittedly, I was very lax last year in posting blogs, but, the good news is...I'm back! I actually enjoy writing so I am looking forward to providing new, updated blogs in 2019 on a more regular basis.
I thought it would be a good time to start with the topic of "NEED vs. WANT".
When it comes to decluttering, these terms can be confusing. Sometimes, we get overwhelmed with the process.
Just imagine that you want to declutter your storage room. You have all types of items in this space and you want to make sense of them. The storage room can easily become a dumping ground for clothes, tools, kitchen items, holiday decorations, toys and memorabilia, just to name a few. You find that your head is spinning when trying to determine whether you should keep something. That's where "Need vs. Want" comes into play.
When I work with my clients and they are feeling overwhelmed with trying to decide whether to keep something or not, "Need vs. Want" can cause confusion. So what is the difference?
The term Need is defined as " necessity, something required that is lacking". The terms Want is defined as "something that is desired". In other words, Need vs. Want equals Require vs. Desire.
There are various factors to consider when determining whether you need or want something.
First, is it for the right reason?
When you look at an item, do you ask your self whether it's something you need in order to function somehow? Is it a tool that you use for home repair, for example? Is it a small kitchen appliance that you use infrequently, but do still make use of? For example, you might have located a large crock pot for larger dinners and you plan to entertain more this year. Do you exclaim, upon finding it, "I've been looking for that! I need this!"
Do you, perhaps, look at an item and consider whether it's something you want to keep, such as an old photo album or your grandmother's dishes? Why do you want to keep it?
Second, can you downsize?
Let's use the example of small appliances. You have found several crock pots that you have acquired over the years. You don't need all of them. Can you narrow down your collection to one, or two at the most? Do you have a large set of Grandmom's dishes that you no longer need, but want to hold onto, because it evokes a memory of Sunday dinners with the family when you were a kid? Did you ever consider reducing the 12 place settings down to 4? Can you reduce the amount by half or more? If so, you can still hold onto the memory, make use of the dishes from time to time, but not have to keep the entire large set.
Third, are you keeping it out of guilt?
Sometimes we purchase something and it cost us a lot of money. Sometimes, someone gives us something as a gift and we don't really like it. These are two common examples of why people hold onto things they don't want or need. When determining whether to keep something or not, do not keep it out of guilt! Remind yourself that you are to only keep things that you need or that you want. Also, remember that everything cannot be your favorite! If you spent a lot of money for something and you no longer need or want it, see if you can give it to someone else who would enjoy it or, perhaps, see if you can sell it. The same holds true for items you get as gifts. Determine right away whether you like something enough to keep it. Otherwise, let it go! (The money was already spent. The item gifted to you is now yours and it is your decision whether you want to keep it or not, not someone else's.)
Keeping these points in mind as you begin your journey of decluttering an area of your home will help you to determine whether you really should or want to still keep it.
If you are overwhelmed with your clutter and have a hard time determining what to keep and where to put it or what to toss and how to get rid of it, don't hesitate to contact me. As a professional organizer I can help you get through the process and make it less overwhelming.
I am here for you!
Tuesday, October 02 2018
I'm sure you've noticed that I basically took the Summer off as far as writing any blogs.
I have been focusing on working with my clients and doing home improvement in my own home. I am working on upgrading some features in my home, including new lighting fixtures throughout, renovating my powder room, window treatments, landscaping, painting, flooring and carpeting to name a few. It's a year long project I decided to take on and hope to complete by year's end.
During this process I have needed to locate and hire professional service providers in order to get some of these improvements completed. It has been a long, tedious and, sometimes, frustrating process.
It took considerable research, trips to various stores and coordination of appointments. I am not done, but my experience has made me realize how important it is to find good, reliable people and companies to work with.
On numerous occasions, I attempted to hire certain individuals and companies based on recommendations but they quickly fell short of my expectations.
I called a painter about a month ago, leaving several messages and never heard back from him. I contacted a carpet installer to set up an appointment to bring samples to my home and take measurements based upon the recommendation of my previous carpet installer who has since retired. He cancelled last minute and did not call me back to reschedule when he said he would.
You can understand my frustration.
I began thinking about how I run my business and what my clients and potential clients expect from me.
I have been a professional organizer for over 14 years and, from the beginning, I always made it a point to do the following:
1. Make sure that I can be easily found on the internet. (Most of my clients have found me via Google.)
2. Provide clear and concise information about my services, my experience and background relating to professional organizing. (Have you taken the time to look at my website. It's very comprehensive.)
3. Make it easy and convenient for potential clients and existing clients to contact me. (I am available by phone seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and provide several avenues on the internet to contact me.)
4. Promptly return calls. (If I am not available, I return calls as soon as possible and within 24 hours at the latest. If I am away on vacation, my answering service provides you with that information so you know when to expect a return call.)
5. Schedule appointments to meet my clients' needs. (I do my best to make myself available during the week and, if need be, on weekends, for your convenience.)
6. Respond to inquiries so that potential clients get the answers they need as quickly as possible to determine whether they wish to work with me. (I personally respond to each and every inquiry promptly.)
7. Spend time making sure that my clients understand the process of decluttering and organizing. (I want my clients to feel comfortable with the process and know what to expect.)
8. Provide a clear and easy-to-understand written Agreement prior to starting any project so my clients know the terms and condition of our working relationship. (I review the Agreement, line by line, in person, with each and every client.)
9. Listen. (I listen and do not judge. I rely on my clients to provide me with information about their situation and what they wish to achieve. My goals are solution-based.)
10. Provide solutions. (This is not a cookie-cutter process. It is personalized to meet each of my clients' specific needs.)
Because of my work ethic, I expect the same from the service providers I look to hire.
If you are considering hiring a professional organizer, l invite you to reach out by phone or by email and speak to me about your particular sitation. I promise to live up to the standards I listed about when working with you to create A Better Space.
I will provide you with the same standard of service that I expect from others.
Sunday, June 03 2018
It's been a while since my last blog. Besides working with my client's, this year I am working to declutter and update my own home, from top to bottom. I am giving myself this entire year to do so.
My son recently moved out and that now leaves me with an extra bedroom. I took my time to figure out what I wanted to do with that room. About a month ago, I decided to create a reading room with a beach theme.
Two of my passions are the beach and reading. Since I live in suburbs outside of Philadelphia, PA, our beach season does not last as long as I would like. Therefore, I am extending that feeling of calm and relaxation within my own home.
I have painted the walls a sandy beach beige. The carpeting is dark blue and I am leaving it that way. (It will represent the sea.) I will be putting a small area rug in front of the love seat I am repurposing from my family room with a beach theme inspired design. I purchased new window treatments with decorative sea shell beads along the top, a seashell filled lamp, a wicker end table and new bookcases to fill with books that I treasure. I will be purchasing some wall decor and other items to complete the look.
The reason I mention all of this is that I want to make a point.
It is very important that, as we go through life changes, we make sure that our real estate reflects those changes. Whether it's a child moving out the home, like mine, or the birth of a new baby, a marriage, a divorce, the death of a spouse or elder parent who had lived in the home, we need to be sure that the real estate we own is being used to its best potential.
Time and time again, when working with new clients, I always make sure that all of the areas of the home are being used. Often I find that there are bedrooms that lay idle and become a dumping spot for clutter, or a basement is not utilized as good storage space, a garage is so cluttered it does not have enough room for a car.
Over the years, I have transformed many under-utilized rooms in my client's home into something they can use and enjoy, creating a space that reflects their interests.
When life creates change, be sure that your home reflects that change. Reassess the rooms in your home and transform them into something you can use and enjoy. Leaving your precious real estate idle is a waste of space and money. You paid for the real estate; use it.
If you are overwhelmed with the prospect of creating a new purpose for an old space, don't hesitate to contact me. I can not only help you to visual a room to meet your needs, but help eliminate the clutter, get it organized and take the steps needed to see it come to fruition.
It's all about having A Better Space!
Friday, April 13 2018
Do you remember the movie "Mommy Dearest"! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUkE9qaVgmo. It was such a frightening scene when Joan Crawford was screaming "NO MORE WIRE HANGERS!". I will never forget it!
These days, in a much calmer tone, I gently explain to my clients why I am not a fan of wire hangers. And this is why:
Wire hangers can cause damage to your clothing when clothes are left on them after returning from the dry cleaners or simply used to store clothing. They can affect the shape of the shoulders and can actually create rust. (I had a client once who used wire hangers and had a cream colored suit that she had kept on the wire hanger from the dry cleaner. When we were reviewing her wardrobe to organize her closet, we discovered, unfortunately, that the wire hanger on her suit had rusted, leaving a permanent stain. The beautiful suit was ruined.)
Also, when it comes to dry cleaning your clothes, be sure to remove the plastic bag they are returned in. There are chemicals used when the dry cleaning process is used. If you keep the bag on the clothes when they arrive home, these harmful chemicals stay trapped in the clothing.
I highly recommend that "no more wire hangers" are kept on your clothing in your closet. Switch them to plastic or velvet slim hangers instead. The next time you head to your dry cleaner, take all of your unused wire hangers with you. Most dry cleaners recycle hangers and actually appreciate you returning them because it saves them money. You get rid of clutter in your closet and help keep landfills free of hangers.
Also, unless you have a need for the plastic bags they wrap around your clothing, you can ask for the dry cleaner to keep the bags off of your clothes. It keeps you from having to toss the bag when you get home, and again saves the dry cleaner money. Also, men’s dress shirts can be folded instead of put on a hanger so that you don’t have to take a hanger home with you at all!
When you go to pick up your clothes at the dry cleaners, take your plastic hangers or thin velvet hangers and garment bags with you. It's just like taking reusable shopping bags with you when you go grocery shopping. That way you don’t even need to take their wire hangers and their plastic bags home at all.
Now you will no longer have wire hangers and with these tips, you will have an organized, clean and safe wardrobe in your clothes closet to enjoy.
If you are overwhelmed with the thought of getting your wardrobe decluttered and organized, don't hesitate to contact me. As always, l am here to help.
Wednesday, March 28 2018
Spring is finally here and the flu season appears to be behind us. I spent the entire Winter season doing everything possible to avoid getting the flu and the good news is, I was successful. That is something that is very contagious in a bad way.
However, there are things that are contagious in a good way! For example: laughter, smiles, a good mood and even a yawn. Did you know that contagious yawning is a sign of empathy and a form of social bonding?
Also, getting organized can be contagious! Yes! That's right. I have seen time and time again how, when I work with a client in their home, other members of the family get the "organizing bug".
I tend to work mostly with busy moms who are struggling to find the balance in their physical space as well as in their heads with time management, etc.
On many occasions, I work with Busy Mom and in the beginning, Dad is not on board. It is interesting to watch how they begin to see the transformation and want a piece of that. They start organizing a sock drawer or getting rid of some paperwork, simply by seeing what is going on.
Most recently, I began working with a family who has several autistic children, one of which is very sensitive to change. I have no intention of pushing that child to straighten up their room or move anything around that they do not want touched. However, Mom recently got in touch with me and told me that her child has observed the changes being made in her master bedroom and took it upon himself to go into his own room and remove the trash and straighten up his video games.
Needless to say, I am thrilled! I want nothing more than for the children to enjoy an organized and peaceful environment in which to live. Whether I help them or they take it upon themselves to do it on their own, it's a positive outcome.
This is a perfect example of how getting organized can be contagious - in a good way!
If you and your family are struggling with clutter and want to get organized, consider starting the process yourself or with a professional organizer such as myself and you just might find that your family get's the "organizing bug" and starts organizing their spaces on their own.
How great would that be!
Monday, March 19 2018
Over the years, I have heard, time and time again, "So how long is this all going to take?". It's a fair question, but not always easy to answer. The honest answer is "It depends."
There are several factors that come into play when determining the answer to this question:
1. How many items are currently in the space you want to organize?
2. What types of things are in the space?
3. What kind of decision maker are you?
4. Does anyone else need to be involved in the decision making?
5. What is the vision you have for the space when it's done?
6. How will you dispose of unwanted items?
Rooms that are the same size can hold drastically different amounts of things. Closets can be stuffed to the brim or under-utilized. Paperwork can take a long time to go through because each piece of paper needs to be reviewed so a home office could take much longer to organize. However, a linen closet or a room filled with furniture will tend not to take as long to go through and make decisions about. It all depends on the contents in the space.
Some people make decisions quickly and are not as emotionally attached to their possessions. Other people need more time to decide. My experience has been that some want to tell me a story about the object before deciding to let it go. That is perfectly normal and understandable as it is a way of letting go. It all depends on what type of decision maker you are. Also, are you the only one that is making the decisions or do you need approval from another family member and a compromise is needed?
Do you have a clear vision of what you want the space to look like in the end? Do you want to re-organize all of the kitchen cabinets and drawers or just the pantry? Depending on what you need to accomplish will determine how long it will take.
How specific you want to be will play a role in how long your organizing project might take.
Lastly, the project is not completed until the items you decide not to keep are disposed of. Do you want to take the time to sell them, donate them or simply throw them away. Sometimes, it a combination of all of them. The key is to quickly get rid of the items once you decide to do so. Do not hold onto them for that once-a-year yard sale!
Generally, once I start working with a client, I can determine how long, in general, it will take to finish the task. They play a key role in how long it will take. Of course, I am there to guide my clients and keep them focused on the project so it can get completed as quickly as possible. Accountability goes a long way in being successful and efficient. I always make sure my clients understand how varying factors will have an effect on how long it will take to get the job done.
If you need to get any area of your home under control and organized, need guidance with time management, paper management or budgeting of your finances, don't hesitate to contact me. As always, I am here to help.
Monday, January 15 2018
Now that the holidays are behind you and you've had time to put the decorations away and evaluate your gifts, you might have received an item or two that you considered re-gifting. Are you feeling guilty about even thinking that way? Are you going on a guilt trip?
Have you ever thought about re-gifting something? Have you ever thought about it and decided that you couldn't do it because you felt it would be rude, tacky or downright wrong?
Re-gifting was once considered rude and unacceptable behavior. It was considered "poor etiquette".
In today's society, when we are trying to be green, economical and trying to reduce our clutter, we shop at thrift stores and recycle where we can. Re-gifting can fall into that realm of avoiding waste. However, there are rules that do apply. The good thing is, it is now acceptable behavior. It all depends on the situation.
Re-gifting can have a bad connotation because, sometimes the re-gifter is just thoughtlessly unloading something he or she doesn't want, to someone who doesn't want or need the item either. It all has to do with intent. Are you taking that particular person into consideration, thinking about their likes and dislikes, and hoping they will enjoy the item when giving them a gift?
However, re-gifting is perfectly fine when certain guidelines are applied and certain criteria are met. Do you know what those guidelines are?
Here is how to do it, and do it right:
1. The item must be brand-new. This doesn't mean "last year's brand-new". It should not have been opened previously, never played with, never worn, washed or even tried on. It should be in it's original, undamaged packaging. Don't give a gift to someone who might return it to the store and be told "We haven't carried this item in years"!
2. Be sure the person who gave you the gift doesn't know the person receiving the gift. Keep in mind, the more unusual the gift, the greater distance there should be between the giver and the re-giftee. The intent might be good but the outcome might not. You don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.
3. Don't confuse re-gifting something you recently received from a friend or family member which you know that individual would enjoy with something you've had in your closet for years or lying in the basement unused. If you have a piece of jewelry or a handmade quilt that you want to pass down to someone, just give it to them, but don't wrap it up and pass it off as a new purchase.
4. Don't re-gift just to get rid of something to avoid spending money. Remember, what you give as a gift is a reflection of you and your taste. You tend to give someone a gift to show that you care about them and have put thought and some effort into purchasing something for them you know they would enjoy. If your motive is simply to save money, that's for the wrong reason.
5. Don't re-gift something someone has made for you. That is insulting to that person who took the time to make it just for you.
Only you can decide whether to re-gift something you have received. The basis of good manners is consideration and respect for others. Consider the circumstances and, if you are in doubt, just don't do it. However, if it is done out of the goodness of your heart, go right ahead!
If you have received any gifts which you would like to re-gift to someone, follow the guidelines above and you will be reducing the "clutter" in your home by passing along a nice gift to someone else who will make use of it. (No guilt necessary!)