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Make This Time Count

Make This Time Count

Social distancing times have brought trends to stay—for example, people working from home. Many companies have realized they are more productive when employees are at home. 

People have found they like the convenience and flexibility this allows. Therefore, more and more people are adopting this trend as the new normal.  

Some schools have kept remote learning as a permanent alternative for the students. 

As a result, we still share our home space (and for more extended periods) with other household members. 

Clutter and lack of systems hit us harder when we are closer under one roof. Thriving under these conditions requires adjustments for most of us. But change can be very positive, depending on how we take it.

I, for one, discovered a new joy in being around my husband and children. We have created a productive and harmonious (very goofy) work environment. And I don’t need to mention how ecstatic our dog is with this at-home arrangement.

But living, working, studying, and playing closer to each other for extended periods may cause previously considered menial details about our space to appear more significant and bother us. 

Here are some things that might help us enjoy our new way of co-existing to make the best of the situation.

Keep It Clutter-Free And Clean

  • Have a trash can in every room and take out the trash daily. 
  • Have antibacterial soap or sanitizer on every sink.
  • Handle your incoming mail daily, rapidly, and efficiently. The last thing you need is more paper clutter around your home.
  • Take 15 minutes at the beginning of each day to put the house in order: Clean the counters, vacuum floors/carpets, and open up shades or curtains to let the sunlight in.
  • Gather dirty dishes and utensils inside the dishwasher throughout the day so the counters remain clear. It requires putting away clean containers every night before bedtime or first thing in the morning, so the day starts with an empty dishwasher.
  • Get caught up with your laundry as soon as possible. Laundry is often the nemesis of many households. You don’t need the added clutter right now. Read my laundry process blog if this needs to be improved.

Embrace A Positive Attitude

  • Make beds daily – this gives you a sense of accomplishment to start your day.
  • Get dressed as if you were going to work or school – when you dress up, this shows in your demeanor on the phone and Zoom calls.

Enjoy Family Time

  • Go on walks outside with the family – if we are together at home, we can take advantage of that.
  • Watch a movie or play board games as a family – welcome back game and movie nights.
  • Get to know each other better!

Stay Healthy

  • Develop a system to ensure everyone takes their supplements and medications consistently.
  • Grocery shopping needs strategic planning to have what we need while avoiding waste. Although we eat more meals at home, buying more than we need leads to food waste. Have a well-planned system.
  • Go to bed and wake up at the usual time every day. Also, keep meal schedules. These two practices allow the body to maintain a routine and feel better.

Increase Productivity

  • Assign spaces for each household member to work or study. These spaces can vary by day, but it is easy to control clutter and have an increased focus if everyone has a space to operate each day. 
  • Avoid distractions by ensuring your pets are cared for before starting your business or school day. Ensure your pets have adequate food and water, have gone outside (if applicable), and have safe and comfy areas to rest.
  • Try listening to Binaural Beats using headphones while you work or study to boost productivity. Binaural Beats in the Beta pattern promote concentration and alertness. Listening to Beta waves helps to increase focus, productivity, critical thinking, decision-making, situational awareness, and memory. Beta waves also help increase energy, sharpen your hearing, and improve overall well-being. 
  •  To take productivity to the next level, combine the binaural beats experience with the diffusion of essential oils that enhance mood and increase brain activity. Young Living Essential Oils are the purest oils you can find. Some oils that improve brain function and affect mood are Vitality, Joy, Awaken, Motivation, Frankincense, Peppermint, Sandalwood, and Lavender.

New trends and practices show us that we can move forward in more productive and efficient ways than we ever thought. 

How to Hire A Professional Organizer And What To Expect From Them

How to Hire A Professional Organizer And What To Expect From Them

How To Hire A Professional Organizer

You have decided to make it happen after many years of unrealized New Year’s resolutions and failed attempts to get organized. You have chosen to hire a Professional Organizer! Well, you will be amazed at how working with an Organizer can transform your home, time, and perspective in life.

What Kind Of Organizing Services Do You Need?

Some Organizers offer a wide range of services, while others work in a specialized niche. For example, some Organizers work with corporations rather than residential clients. Others specialize in specific areas such as home offices or closets. Finally, some Organizers specialize in working with clients with brain-based conditions, including the chronically disorganized and individuals with ADD.

Where Should You Begin Your Search?

  • Use NAPO’s Professional Organizer Directory to search for a professional organizer by type of service, distance from your location, or both. 
  • You can google Professional Organizers in ______ (your area).
  • Use resources such as FindMyOrganizer.com, for example.

How Do You Decide Who Is Right For You?

It would help to speak to several Organizers before choosing the one for you. If you prefer to meet in person before deciding, note that some Organizers offer free consultations. In contrast, others charge for the talk and credit that fee toward services if hired. Yet others charge separately for assessments and services.

What Fees Should You Expect To Pay?

As with most professions, fees vary widely based on experience, geographic location, and competition. For example, many Organizers charge by the hour, while others charge by the project. Therefore, establishing a budget and deciding what feels most comfortable would be the first thing to do.

Avoid choosing an Organizer strictly by price. Instead, focus on value by finding a professional with a personality you click with and whose skill set matches your needs. That person will probably deliver the results you expect in the shortest time.

What Questions Should You Ask When Hiring A Professional Organizer?

One of the first questions is whether the Organizer is a National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) member. Membership in NAPO demonstrates that the Organizer is committed to continuing education and an industry code of ethics.

Other professional associations directly related to the organizing industry include Professional Organizers in Canada (POC), the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD), and the Australasian Association of Professional Organizers (AAPO).

An experienced Organizer will ask many questions about you, your work style, what you are looking for, and the issues you believe have thwarted your best attempts to get organized in the past. In addition, they want to get to know you, understand your objectives, and determine whether they will be a good fit for you. 

Therefore, it is in your best interest to be as candid and straightforward as possible about what you want to achieve.

So here are some suggestions of questions to ask a potential Organizer:

  • What kinds of organizing projects do you do?
  • Who is your typical/usual client?
  • What services do you offer?
  • Do you have any training or certifications in organizing or related areas?
  • Can you describe your organizing process or describe a typical working session?
  • How long have you been in the organizing business?
  • What is your fee structure?
  • Do you work with a written contract?
  • What is your cancellation policy?
  • I have tried to get organized before. How will this be different?

What To Expect From An Organizer

Professional organizers should be nonjudgmental, encouraging, and supportive. They should be good listeners and recommend various suggestions, alternatives, and solutions to create the system that will work best for you.

If you start working with a Professional Organizer and, along the way, decide that you are not comfortable with their style, you are rarely under obligation to continue the relationship. Be sure to let the Organizer know how you feel. More than likely, they will be happy to recommend a colleague.

A Professional Organizer strives to increase the organization of your space and its functionality so you can do more with your time and live a happier, better life. This person is skilled at creating systems that work for you. But for this to happen, the Organizer needs to learn about your preferences, habits, and style.

The Deep Dive

The Organizer will invite you to have a deeper conversation about why you want this project done. Why is this space the way it is today? What circumstances brought the area(s) to its current state? Are those circumstances still present, or will they return? What are you doing to ensure those situations or circumstances won’t return?

You might need to address these aspects to ensure the organized areas don’t return to their previous state sooner than you imagine. Ideally, during the process, the root causes of the problems in the space are analyzed and corrected during the organizing process.

What if you aren’t ready to talk about the real cause of your disorganization? This can be hard to face. The long-term results of your project will be different than you hoped for, and expectations should be adjusted. 

There’s Always An Option

Organizing takes strategy, planning, thought, skills, and time. An experienced and accomplished Professional Organizer will seek a lasting transformation of the space and the client’s life. And there are many scenarios in which an organizing professional can help you. To name just a few:

  • Maintaining the space once it’s done (recurrent service)
  • Bringing order to the home when your attention and time need to be elsewhere due to circumstances out of the ordinary
  • Moving out of your home and setting up a new one
  • Organizing the home before or after a renovation project
  • A Professional Organizer provides a specialized service to improve your home’s order, functionality, and style.

If you’d like to experience working with a Professional Organizer, let’s chat and see if that’s something you can benefit from.

Organizing Media

Organizing Media

Sneaky Media

Media, like DVDs, cassettes, videos, CDs, and books, insidiously clutter our homes. These items sneak into our space without us even knowing why. We are organizing media today. Want to join us? Keep reading!

These items are often invisible until they overrun our environment or until they gang up with other types of clutter to take us down. Do you know that feeling?

Let’s strike back and end this battle now. Follow these simple steps and suggestions.

First, go through your home and gather every book, CD, DVD, video, and cassette (if you have any of the last two?). Do not get distracted by papers, clothes, Knick knacks, or other stuff around. You need to stay hyper-focused if you want to finish this process.

Then divide this large media group into five categories: CDs, DVDs, videos, cassettes, and books.

Let’s Do This!

Cassettes (Tapes)

Let’s deal with those cassettes first, if you have any.

Do you have the equipment to listen to these? And would you listen to them — ever? (Honestly!). What are their contents? Are the contents something you can easily find online (like music)? Or is the material recorded conferences, for example? If so, could you find the same content online?

If the contents of the cassettes are something personal you recorded and need to keep, find a service that can transfer that tape contents into digital. A digital format preserves the material and also makes it more accessible.

Then you can let go of both the tapes and the tape player. Off with clutter!!!

If you MUST keep one or two tapes in the actual cassette format for utmost sentimental reasons, that item should go in your “warm & fuzzy” box.

What is that box? This box is a special box everyone should have in their closet or under the bed, with very few carefully selected items that make you laugh or cry throughout your entire life.

Of course, not everything can or should go in this box. You have to be super selective!

Place all cassettes you decide to digitize in a box or bin marked “to digitize.” Then, get your calendar (yes, right now) and schedule a date when you will do any research about this service and mail this material to be digitized.

VHS, anyone?

Everything said in point number 3 applies to any VHS video in your home.

Answer the same questions and take the same actions described for cassettes with your videos.

Organizing Media

Photo Home Decor Obsession

Books’ turn!

Check all those books collected through the home and see if anything should go away through donation, recycling, or selling. If you have a decent number of books to let go of, see if you can sell them at Half-Priced Books? They also buy movies and music, so keep that in mind.

Take the books you will keep to that home area where other books live. If you do not have a central place for the books in your home, it may be time to assign such a place.

Don’t let the lack of space or bookcases limit your ideas. There are infinite ways to create bright displays for your books. In addition, books can make a design statement! Just check Pinterest, and you will see. Smashing idea; Points for Design!

A word about vinylOrganizing Media

Vinyl has come back- no doubt about it. But being a vintage item, vinyl makes a statement on its own. Because we tend to listen to records on special moments and need vintage equipment to play them, these items tend to behave more appropriately. They don’t run away like their CDs and DVDs relatives. There is not much we need to say about vinyl. But if you have some records and their player but have yet to give these items the standing they crave, you are missing all the fun. Consider a place of honor to display and listen to your Vinyl music. You are unlikely to have records you no longer want out of their jackets or in random home areas. But if you do, I am simply out of words. Let’s leave it at that.

How about DVDs and CDs?

Make a space in the living room or a home office for all your DVDs.

First, you must pair DVDs and CD cases with their discs! For mysterious reasons, half of the cases we find are empty. That tells us their corresponding disks might be broken or scratched somewhere or under some gooey, unknown blob. Those disks are no longer suitable to keep; you can feel okay trashing them. But when you let them go, discard their case as well.

Other DVDs and CDs will be in good condition. So, after matching them with their cases, you can decide to keep or donate them.

The DVDs and CDs you keep should be all together in a single place in the home. Typically, the optimal location for these is the living room.

When you decide where all your DVDs and CDs will live, take those you found during this exercise to that place in the home. Then, see if any of the discs in your collection can go. You could donate or sell them (remember Half Priced Books?).

When you go through all your disks and eliminate what you don’t want or enjoy anymore, you make a more comfortable, appealing space for the DVDs and CDs you keep.

The Most Brilliant Idea Yet

On the other hand, consider that movies and music are easy and inexpensive to download these days. It might cost you more to store these items if you consider the space they occupy in your home and the amount you pay for each square foot of the house. And when was the last time you watched a movie from your DVDs or listened to a CD? (No, honestly!)

Some DVDs and CDs might be homemade, with great sentimental value. You may want to keep all that material.

However, here is my brilliant idea: Transfer their contents to an external drive dedicated to photos and videos or place the material in your computer and copy it to the cloud. This way, all your memories are safe, shareable with others, more accessible to enjoy, and do not occupy the physical space CDs and DVDs take. Furthermore, you can also let go of CD players and DVD players. How about that? Off with the clutter again!!!

These steps and ideas will help you tackle the media clutter in your home. Probably, media is not the most significant factor cluttering your environment, but every little bit counts. So, we must divide, conquer, and work on every puzzle piece to achieve our desired results.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need help or advice with your home organization.

Suggested Reading

Systems Take Organizing To The Next Level

Systems Take Organizing To The Next Level

The Kitchen Cabinet Situation

  • This cabinet had lots of cookbooks and recipe binders.

  • It also had a myriad of serving items.

  • The books were stacked sideways because some did not fit the space.

  • Recipe clippings were sticking out of books and binders.

  • Nothing was labeled or had hand-written Post-it notes.

Systems Take Organizing To The Next Level

The Kitchen Cabinet Situation

  • this cabinet had lots of cookbooks and recipe binders
  • it also had a myriad of serving items
  • books stacked sideways because some did not fit the space
  • recipe clippings were sticking out of books and binders
  • nothing was labeled or had hand-written Post-it notes

Also

  • Recipes were difficult to remember, identify, or use.

  • Meals were boring, repetitive, and unhealthy.

  • Medicine and supplement bottles occupied the lower shelf of this cabinet.

  • Taking meds and supplements was inconsistent because of the sorting and opening of bottles required, and it was hard to remember who took what and when

The kitchen cabinet needed some tweaking to become a functional cabinet with valuable, organized content.

The Process

  1. Removed all cabinet contents.
  2. Sorted through contents and removed what was no longer wanted or needed.
  3. Adjusted shelves to fit even the tallest book.
  4. Allocated specific areas for things that stay.
  5. Created a recipe management system.
  6. Photocopied, cut, and pasted recipes on 4″ X 6″ index cards.
  7. Classified recipes by dish type and organized them in index card boxes.
  8. Labeled index card boxes with their corresponding recipe categories.
  9. System benefits: mixing/matching cards creates a week’s worth of healthy, varied meals
  10. Created a medication management system by sorting pills according to dosage/time of intake. Everyone knows where, what, when, and how to get their meds.

Developing systems improves space usage efficiency.

Having systems that increase productivity and make life easier is one of the most valuable benefits of working with a Professional Organizer. 

If you want to experience some organizing magic, let’s talk! We’d love to hear about you and see how we can help.

Packing To Move – The Pro Organizer Way

Packing To Move – The Pro Organizer Way

Packing To Move – The Pro Organizer Way

One of the hardest things about moving is balancing getting a head-start on the packing, having what you still need to live and function in the house before you move, and keeping a home worth showing.

As a Professional Organizer, I deal with packing and moving quite frequently. Many people find the packing and moving processes abhorrent and excruciating, making this one of the most significant stressors in anyone’s life. Thus, they often rely on a Pro to deal with all that.

Here is some advice to ease the burden of the packing for the moving process. If there comes a time when you have to go through this, being better informed and armed with some strategies will ease your pain.

Home Areas & Item Categories

Pay attention to the order, the how, and the what of your packing. The best thing to do when moving is to organize the home before you pack your move. Why is this? There are three main reasons:

(1) in organizing the home, you realize there is a lot you can let go of before moving (less effort and money to move)

 (2) organizing the home before packing allows things that should be together to be together. Then, the packing happens logically, by categories. This makes the unpacking so much easier and the home setup faster

 (3) no one likes seeing (or showing) a cluttered home for sale. Shoving things in closets, cabinets, and drawers does not work. Visitors open these if they come with the house. If the contents in these spaces are disorganized, visitors immediately think the house lacks storage space. That is a big red flag in selling a home.

Note that if a moving company handles the move, they might have restrictions and limitations about how to pack and who does it. Due to insurance, they might need to do the packing instead of the client.

But whether you pack your move or they do, following a particular order in the process and grouping items in a certain way for later packing will make everything easier.

The main thing to remember is that packing logically and per item category (not by room) is the name of the game. Therefore, although this article is divided by house areas, you will notice the importance of item categories in the process.

Living Room/Media Room/Game Room

Most likely, your movers will take care of large electronics and furniture in that room. However, before moving day, you should empty the cabinets and drawers and allocate their contents in groups and boxes according to the item categories in the space. Examples of items in these areas are board games, DVDs, board games, CDs, smaller A/V equipment, toys, blankets, smaller electronics related to games, etc. So, you want to go throughout the house and gather all items that belong to any of these categories so these items stay together.

Pro Tip 1: Use small boxes for CDs and other living room items. The weight adds up fast — pack heavier items toward the bottom of the box and lighter items toward the top. Don’t exceed 50 pounds per box to make moving easier.

When a game room, living room, or media room includes crafts items, if you will have a dedicated crafts space in the new home, box crafts stuff separately and mark them as such. These boxes should land in your new crafts space when you move. If the new house does not have a dedicated crafts area, consider merging all crafts materials with office supplies. In this case, take all crafts items to the current home’s office area and pack these items with office things.

Office

You might need many files and documents until the day before the move. Set aside all documents you will need, and you can transfer the contents of your filing cabinet to banker’s boxes. Label these boxes. You only need to add those files or documents to the boxes on moving day.

Packing your desktop computer last is best unless you have the same access to information using your laptop or iPhone. Laptops can go with you in the car, so there’s no need to pack them in anything but their case.

If you have diligently kept your paper files in order and have cleaned up your files every year, you are in the best shape possible in that area. If not, take care of that now. It’s in your best interest to avoid moving messy files that will need sorting later and would only make your move more expensive.

Linen & Coat Closets

Linen and coat closets usually contain lots of random things. Moving is the best time to see what we own, what we still want, and what won’t go with us. In the process, we must consider the function of those items we keep.

The purpose of each item determines where that item goes. Now is the time to take each item to its proper place rather than pack everything in these closets together.

At the same time, determine if other items in the home should be in any of those closets. In that case, gather and merge such things with the closet’s contents. Why? Because you want to pack together items serving the same purpose or belonging to a particular category. Packing this way leads to a faster and more logical unpacking process on the other end, as mentioned before.

Kitchen

The kitchen usually contains items that we accumulate for years and never use. Before packing, assess what you use, need, and want. Get rid of duplicates and other things you do not use or want.

Pro Tip 2: Pack dishes, trays, cutting boards, and other flat items in boxes vertically instead of flat. This way, they are less likely to crack. Use smaller boxes for dishes and utensils because these items are heavy. Place thin foam sheets between the plates. For dishes and fragile items, use bubble packaging material. Cloth napkins, dish towels, and tablecloths are also helpful for cushioning.

Pro Tip 3: Avoid newspapers, though. Newspaper leaves ink marks, and you want to avoid washing every dish in your new home when you move in.

stacked boxes filled with home contents

Bedrooms

Most bedroom items can be packed well before the move, except for the sheets and blankets on the bed and outfits you wear regularly.

Many things in our bedrooms fall into the “miscellaneous” category. Examine those items. If anything belongs somewhere else, take that item or group of objects to where they belong so they can be with their logical groups before packing.

If you no longer need or want something, this is the time to let it go.

Bathrooms

Go through every toiletry product in your cabinets and discard unwanted or expired ones. Identify all hygiene and beauty products you will need until moving day and put those in a box or bin so they remain available for your use but are easy to grab and go on moving day.

Pro Tip 4: After this process, pack the rest of your toiletries in small boxes lined with plastic garbage bags, as toiletries can easily leak.

Pack all towels and linens not used with other towels and linens found throughout the house in one category. Towels and linens can also be packed in advance.

Pro tip 5: Keep a laundry bag handy for the few dirty clothes and towels used until the last minute.

Bedroom Closets

Be sure to pack your closet before the last minute. Unfortunately, closets become storage spaces for all kinds of things, and we forget about them because these items hide behind clothes.

Start organizing your closet before your move so you can decide about those items that don’t belong in the space. Place those things with related stuff and where they should have been in the home. Then, once in the new house, find the logical, permanent place for those items (do not place them back in the closet!).

Wardrobe boxes make packing clothes easier — transferring the clothes from the closet to the box and hanging them on the bar. Removing hangers is unnecessary, which facilitates unpacking your wardrobe later.

Pro Tip 6: Protect folded clothes by placing them in a large plastic bag before boxing. Then, if the boxes get wet in transit, the plastic will protect your clothes.

Move Packing by Professional Organizer

Garage

Before you cringe, you can quickly and gracefully tackle the garage.

Start by trashing everything that you can discard. There is usually a lot of trash in garages. That will make the process easier. Then, take all paints and chemicals to a specialized recycling facility. If paint cans have lived in the garage for years, they are no longer in good shape. Also, paint is specific to the house- you won’t need it in your new place. One idea is to take pictures of each can lid so you keep a record of paint formulas and brands for the new homeowner.

Moving companies don’t transport chemicals and paints, but you’ll be better off buying new products, so you start with a clean, fresh garage area and supplies. Also, these items are heavy, and moving companies charge by weight. It is less expensive to buy new garage products.

For this same reason, you want to clean up your tool chest or toolbox to keep what you need and use. Repair and building equipment are bulky and heavy and will substantially increase moving costs. During this purging process, you will be amazed at the many things you can let go, sell, and donate to places like Habitat for Humanity.

Seasonal Décor

Now is the ideal time to take inventory of your seasonal and holiday decorations. We usually store these items in a garage or attic. So, see what works or not, what will fit your new place, and what can be donated or trashed.

Organize all items to keep in plastic, labeled bins with lids. Those bins will probably go inside moving boxes for the move, but the totes will protect their contents. Once at the new place, you will remove the packages and place the containers in your garage shelving system, attic, or storage unit.

Treat other things in your garage like the seasonal décor category (organized, relevant contents in well-labeled plastic bins). You will see how manageable the garage is when you tackle it methodically.

Pets

Some pet items, such as grooming supplies, extra toys, and additional dishes, can all be packed in advance. Ensure to leave out anything needed for your pets until moving day and during the moving process, such as kennel accessories, special toy(s), treats, etc.

Ensure your pets are safe during moving day, including keeping them locked away when movers are in and out of the house to prevent them from running away.

Important Things To Remember

In summary, here are some things to remember for packing each space of the home:

  • Before starting the packing process, it would make sense to organize the house. During the organization process, items find their logical space, and things of the same kind come together, making it easier to pack logically.
  • Purge as you go.
  • Get all items of the same category or use throughout the house and pack them together.
  • Pack item categories with your new home in mind – think about where the things will go.
  • Label each box with the name of the room where they will go in your new house (not where they came from).
  • Using a box number system, create a contents inventory for each box in a master file.
  • Creating a plan and starting the process beforehand makes packing less stressful for you and your family. The less stress you face in this phase means a more enjoyable transition to your new home.