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Holiday Décor (Oh Joy!)

Holiday Décor (Oh Joy!)

When Chaos Shows Up

Few things bring domestic chaos to the surface, like the holiday season: the gatherings, the cooking, the decorations – Holiday Décor (Oh Joy!).

The cold weather makes us stay closer, inside.

Our environment’s stability is tested like at no other time of the year during the holidays.

It Affects Everyone

Some people live in a mess, yet they get preoccupied with seasonal décor, gift-giving, entertaining, and baking. 

I can’t help but wonder if that is just a defense mechanism to avoid seeing the elephant in the room. What sense does it make to decorate a house in total disarray?

Some might seem oblivious to the underlying disorganization of their environment. However, whether we notice it or not, a chaotic environment affects us all.

Clutter affects us, both consciously and subconsciously. Clutter drains our energy.

What Would It Feel Like?

But if only we could experience a different way, what would happen? How many possibilities would open up? How much more efficient could we become? How much more relaxed and joyful?

Our environment is our foundation. If the foundation is not in order, we are on shaky ground.

Rather than being a roadblock in life, your home environment should be your support and bring you joy. That joy starts with having an organized and optimized space.

Then, the whole family can have a wonderful time decorating, sharing, cooking, and eating together instead of fighting about the dusty boxes, the decorations they can’t find, or just being in a bad mood because the house is a mess.

Have A Proper Closure

Having an “exit strategy” is equally important. How you close your holiday season will directly impact next year’s celebrations. If holiday decorations were not in order before, this is a good starting point. Decide to mindfully and purposefully store your seasonal décor to properly preserve them and keep them accessible for the following year. Commit to putting your home environment in order. You will feel the difference!

Make Your Environment Work For You

Stop fighting your environment. Make it work for you instead. Want a joyful holiday season? Get your environment in order first. 

If you feel overwhelmed by the task, contact My Space Reclaimed! Let’s set a time to chat and see how we can walk that road together. You don’t have to do this alone

A Place For Everything and Everything In Its Place

A Place For Everything and Everything In Its Place

We will not give you little “tips and tricks” about how or where to store your things. Instead, I will shed some light on a simple truth that is obvious yet incredibly overlooked.

Do You Need It Out There?

We all need certain things handy. I hear it all the time – “oh, this is out here because we use it all the time, and we needed it handy.” So, let’s consider this for a moment.

If you have already purged everything that does not serve your life anymore, what you keep, by definition, is something that you or your household members need.

If you were to apply the same reasoning of “it is out there because we use it all the time,” everything you own would be “out here.” Add to this all the things you do not need or use frequently that are still in your home, “out there,” because no one cared to put them back where they belong. Can you see the chaos?

You would be surprised at the amount of unused space or underutilized space we find all the time in clients’ homes. The reasoning of “it needs to be out here because we use it all the time” rules.

A Place For Everything and Everything In Its Place

Sorry to break the news to you, but to stay organized, you need to have a place for everything, and you also need to put everything in its place. That is why we find each item a good home in the first place.

It does not matter how wonderfully organized a home ends up; if everyday effort and discipline don’t follow, chaos will return.

A couple of things left out of place due to frequent use will soon justify all other things that we use often left out of place. That mess that drives you crazy will come back.

We create systems and organize, considering accessibility and frequency of use of the things we use the most. After all, the idea behind organizing is to make life easier. But there is a fine line between making life easier and making it so easy that all discipline and effort goes out the window. Things still need to go back to where they belong each time to maintain the home organization. That is key to finding those things again quickly.

Many have trouble understanding their disorganization. Some want to buy containers and additional storage solutions. Others go after the latest trend in organizing, devour books related to the topic and try all sorts of methods. Unfortunately, the result is usually less than satisfactory.

The truth is that none of that matters if you don’t first let go of all the excess in your life, assign a home for everything you own and put everything back in its designated spot after each use. Those three things are fundamental to maintaining an organized space.

We Can Help

You might need help with that initial organizing effort if your home has never been in top shape. The initial organizing of the house can be a profoundly confusing process to many people. If that is your case, do not hesitate to look for help. We can assist you with the initial organizing but, most importantly, help you develop the systems and methods to keep your home space in great shape. Contact My Space Reclaimed, LLC!

Professional Organizer Vs. Mari Kondo

Professional Organizer Vs. Mari Kondo

What This Is About

It has taken me an excessive amount of time to write this piece. I had allowed the cloud of dust to settle. In the meantime, I have been learning about the subject, filling in the information gaps where I deemed appropriate. So here is what I’ve got on Professional Organizer Vs. Mari Kondo.

The way I see it, Mari Kondo helps you get rid of the clutter and teaches you how to fold your shirts and underwear in a very particular way. Still, her method is not about professional organization. Some KonMari certified consultants are Professional Organizers. But following the KonMari process alone is not enough to call someone a Professional Organizer.

The Need That Each Serves

Please do not take me wrong. I’m not at war with Mari Kondo. On the contrary. I think she brings a lot of attention and value to our industry. But having said that, she serves a specific portion of the market. What she does is not equivalent to what a Professional Organizer does.

If you need to declutter your space, you can choose between the KonMari method or a Professional Organizer. However, if you want to find the root cause of your disorganization and need systems to maintain the order to go forward, you need a Professional Organizer. Unfortunately, Mari Kondo can’t help you there.

Let me present a couple of criteria to compare how the KonMari method differs from the Professional Organizer’s approach.

Scope and Focus

Organizers typically follow a method that involves evaluating, classifying, purging, allocating, containerizing, and labeling spaces. As part of this process, they emphasize improving the productivity of the client and the efficiency of the space. To achieve that, Organizers implement systems and processes. 

On the other hand, the KonMari method focuses on decluttering the home using the classification of items. Her process does not address the organizing details. Indeed, Mari Kondo does not focus on systems or processes to enhance the efficiency of the space or maintain the order achieved.

Ideal Clientele

Mari Kondo does not address the root cause of disorganization in a home or a person’s life. Therefore, it is logical to presume that her process does not work for people whose clutter problem is “not about the stuff.”  Should these individuals follow the KonMari method, the chances are that shortly after, they will be cack on square one. 

Organizers train in a wide variety of areas to best help their clients. Therefore, it is essential to look for that Organizer best suited to each person’s needs. A good Professional Organizer seeks to find out the root cause of the problem, transfers skills, and designs systems to make their client’s life easier.

Aesthetic Value and Design

The KonMari method emphasizes reusing what the client has available to organize and containerize the client’s items after decluttering. The process expressly avoids the purchase of containers and systems. Not buying additional equipment or supplies could be an advantage when considering project costs. However, things have changed recently with the new merge between Mari Kondo and The Container Store. 

Nevertheless, as humans, we are more inclined to maintain the organization of areas that look neat and that are pleasing to the eye. An organized place should be decluttered and functional but also aesthetically pleasing. An organizing design does not need expensive organizing products to look fantastic. However, it requires careful consideration of style and form. And random repurposed containers might not achieve great-looking results.

Room by Room Vs. Categories 

One of the fundamental KonMari principles is organizing the whole house using a process based on categories, placing together all items from the same type to evaluate them at once. Some see this method as more definite, fast, and conclusive than organizing room by room.

But Professional Organizers agree with the organizing by categories! One hundred percent! We all want to place similar items together before the client decides what to keep. The difference lies in what happens next with each category once the client has decided what to keep. 

Organizers Go Further

Organizers take it a step further, clarifying the purpose of each room to assign items to their logical place. But yes, we completely agree-this should be a whole-house approach. 

And the whole-house approach is inevitable anyway. People love to spread their things all over the home, regardless of item type or home space purpose. So, we need to search the whole house to bring together all items in the various categories.

Once And For All?

As they say, the KonMari process is a “once and for all solution.” But organizing is a life skill. There are habits to be learned and exercised throughout our lives to keep an organized space. 

The order does not magically happen “once and for all.” People change, fail, recover, let go, and come back. We are more complex than “once and for all.” Without addressing disorganization’s root causes and the human condition, how can anyone sustain the “once and for all” claim?

When clients work with a Professional Organizer who shows them how much easier life can be by using the “logical place for things” and the “one home per category of items” approach, they usually adopt new habits.

In Conclusion

We are not opposed to the KonMari method – it works in specific situations and for a particular type of client. However, people should understand the fundamental differences between the KonMari way and what Professional Organizers do. 

It is time that people in need of professional organization services stop thinking they don’t need a Professional Organizer because they read the KonMari book. Those who truly need a Professional Organizer will see no progress with the KonMari method. On the other hand, people who do not grapple with disorganization or any underlying clutter situation will be happy, experiencing joy with what they keep and gratefully saying goodbye to their discards.

Organizing Kids’ Memories

Organizing Kids’ Memories

All those school projects, papers, and awards are everywhere, and you can’t find it in your heart to let them go. 

Organizing kids’ memories let you declutter your life and enjoy those mementos better. I will show you how. 

First, gather all your children’s projects, artwork, school papers, trophies, awards, and the like. Go through every space, drawer, closet, and room in your home. Leave no space unchecked. Take all this kid-related stuff to a single place in your home to collect them together.

However, stay hyper-focused during this gathering process. Don’t get distracted by other things you might find. Your focus is crucial! Getting distracted is what trips people on this process, and then they get confused and can’t finish half the job. 

Once you have this material in one place, you will have a large group of miscellaneous items. Now subdivide this big pile by the child if you have two or more children. 

After having a separate pile for each of your children, sort each one by year. When you can’t recall the year when the piece was created, and the item does not show, assign some chronological order as best as you can. 

You will have several groups of items per each of your children. Now follow the steps described below for each of those years, per child. You must work on one group (year or stage) for one child at a time.

1. Discard Unimportant Papers

Unimportant papers are notifications from school, lunch menus, and the like. These are things that won’t move our hearts at the end of the day. (You know what I’m talking about). So, recycle or trash all that.

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2. Photograph Non-Scannable Items 

Take good pictures of everything that is not flat paper, like artwork pieces, medals, trophies, etc. As you take each photo, include a post-it note with the child’s name and the item’s date. Place this post note at the bottom of each item so that you can crop it out of the picture later on. Then, when ready to work on a project with these pictures (like a photo book or scrapbook), crop the note out, if you can tag or caption the image.

If taking pictures of these items will suffice, you can let go of the physical object. When dealing with trophies, medals, and awards, if you or your child are not ready to part with the physical thing just yet, find a suitable location in the home where you can gather and display these items in a cohesive, aesthetic way. You don’t want them to look like accidents in your home.

3. The Written Work 

Group items related to written work like stories, poems, analyses, and the like. The idea for these is to make binders or books later on. But, for now, organize the material to create these books later.

4. The “Warm & Fuzzy” Box 

Regardless of your most ruthless efforts to eliminate clutter, there might be a few (a few), small items that you or your child can’t simply let go of, even when these have been digitized. That’s where the “Warm & Fuzzy” box comes in. 

Everyone should have a “warm & fuzzy” box, by the way. This is a nice-looking box, basket, or container with a lid that includes items we keep forever. Those are the items that take us back in time and make us laugh and cry every time. Therefore, it is crucial to be selective with the things we include here. Not everything makes it to the coveted status of “warm & fuzzy” box material. Remember that!

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5. Paper and Flat Media

Loose papers, awards, recognitions, messages, etc., on paper, are scannable media. As you do this, name the electronic file with the child’s name and the year when they made it. This process is equivalent to the post-it notes you applied to items photographed.

Scan everything using your printer/scanner, your iPhone, or any equipment you might have or can purchase for this purpose. This equipment is not that expensive anymore. However, it would be an excellent investment to have a reliable scanner at home.

Stories, poems, essays, and other items you put together to make binders or books (step 3), don’t need to be scanned individually. However, it is clever to digitize these, ensuring a safe record. If you do, ensure that pages of the same item remain together in sequential order. 

You will manage the scanned material the same way you dealt with the pictures. So think of each scanned paper or project a digital image comparable to the photos.

6. Rinse and Repeat

Once you finish working with all the mementos of a child’s years, repeat the process with each one of your other children, working a year or a stage at a time. 

In my case, we have three children, and for each one, I divided their electronic files into four main stages: infancy, elementary school, middle school, and high school. Note that pictures or souvenirs from extra-curricular activities and summers get included in one of these four stages, depending on the year. 

7. Create Digital Files

Download all the photos you took of non-scannable items into an electronic file. You could name this file “Kids’ Projects” or something like that. Then create a file folder per child, and move every picture related to a particular child into their electronic folder. After this, you may subdivide each child’s electronic folder into years or stages or any way you want to do this.

Do not forget to add all images from your scanning process. Add these to the same digital folders. 

From Now On 

From the moment you gather all those projects, awards, and papers from around the home, consider it is a clean slate and new beginning. Pay attention to how you manage your children’s documents, projects, and awards. The key is to stay on top of things. Here’s is how you do that.

Every day, when kids come home from school or extra-curricular activities

  • Note important dates and deadlines and place those dates on the family calendar.
  • Post any school reminders for your children on a magnetic or chalkboard where they can see them every morning. 
  • Discard those notes or papers. Those are the miscellaneous papers you tossed on step 1 above.

The Artwork

When the children bring home artwork pieces, trophies, medals, and other non-flat items 

  • Photograph these as soon as they get home (so they look their best and you don’t forget to do this). 
  • Save these pictures in the child’s electronic file. Name the file with the child’s name and year. 
  • Add subsequent art projects during that year to that same file.
  • Create a new file with the child’s name and year every year. 

You or your child might want to display such an item for a while. That’s great! Just ensure you place this item in that particular location you designated for this kind of thing. But, again, you don’t want their projects to look or feel like clutter.

In any case, taking those pictures early on gives you and your kids the freedom to let go of the item after displaying it for some time.

The Paper

Scan all paper items and flat media such as report cards, academic evaluations, school pictures, stories, essays, and poems as soon as they come home. 

If you can’t process these items immediately, park these papers in a bin close to the scanner, and assign a day of the week or the month in your calendar (yes, do it now!) to periodically scan these things. Of course, discard originals as soon as you digitize them. But should you need to keep it, place it in a file with the child’s name in your filing cabinet.

Now You Tell The Story

It’s a lot of work, I know. But consider that all this work needs to be done just at the beginning of the project because you did not have a method to deal with all this stuff so far. So once you follow the initial process, you only need to stay on top of it. 

But why do all of this in the first place? First, this solves the overwhelming number of papers and artifacts cluttering our home space. Second, this process allows you to have all that worth-keeping material organized and ready to create meaningful stories of each stage of your children’s lives. 

Telling a story is the real purpose of keeping all these projects, pictures, and awards. Having all those papers and items with no order all over the house does not tell any story nor inspire anyone to create one. This material is simply meaningless when scattered around or carelessly stored in a bin somewhere. 

On the other hand, memories in book form, like photo books, are easy to keep neatly on a shelf or library and are a joy to share. Our children will be able to see and enjoy their path through life and share this fantastic legacy with friends, family, and their children.

Also, imagine the storage space you will recover when you let go of physical items and original papers! However, you might think that throwing all that away is what you did not want to do. But how many times has anybody enjoyed those things since you put them away? Is there space in your home to display them all? Are they all worth exhibiting? Do you want your home to look like a kindergarten classroom? 

Maybe when your child created a project, you displayed it for about a week or so. But eventually, that project, along with so many others, started cluttering your home and your life. So, this way of purposely and intentionally working with your children’s stuff will take you where you want to be.

Looking Beneath Your Need to Keep the Stuff

If you feel it is too hard to let go of those physical objects and original papers, even when they are safely digitized, what you are probably trying to keep is the feelings they evoke. It is not about the item itself. Images of these items can still satisfy those feelings without drowning you in “stuff.” Instead, having these memories accessibly organized enables everyone to enjoy and share them for many years to come.

11 Key Habits of an Organized Lifestyle

11 Key Habits of an Organized Lifestyle

Organizing Is A Lifestyle

Many say they need to become more organized, especially each January. Some will even call an Organizer. However, those unwilling to adopt new habits will always struggle with clutter. No matter how easy or difficult that initial push to get the home in top shape might be. That is just a start. Without maintenance, that initial organization is just a waste of time and money. Organizing is not a project; it is a lifestyle. So, here are 11 key habits of an organized lifestyle. These will make a big difference in your home and how you live.

1. Make The Bed Every Morning

Making your bed makes the room feel in order and makes you feel accomplishment from the time you get up. In addition, this action helps you face the date with a can-do attitude.

2. Keep A Donation Bag In Each Closet

Having a bag for things you no longer need or want allows you to make those decisions when you think about them. You will have a designated place for these items and won’t need to remember to gather them later. When the bag is full, schedule a donation run. The moment you put on a piece of clothing that you feel is no longer suitable or is ripped or screams dated, instead of hanging the clothing back (or God forbid, throw it on the bed or a chair), you will place that item in the bag.

3. Create A Home For Everything In Your House

You will decide where things should go based on their use pattern in the home. The important thing is to assign one specific place to each category of items, preferably. If using an item requires storing it in more than one space, formally set those spaces up. Also, labeling storage areas allows everyone to know where to put things back. Finally, remember that If anything can go anywhere, everything will go everywhere. 

4. Put Things Back In Their Place

To maintain an organized home, everyone must put things back where they belong every time. Hence the importance of labeling spaces until everyone knows the proper place of things. “I will put this here for the moment” does not work. It never has. It never will.

5. Shop Intentionally

The words “free,” “save,” and “discount” act like a drug on the brain. Please don’t fall for it. Before you buy, ask yourself if you need the item and have the space to store it. If not, please walk away. The less you own, the more living area you enjoy in your own home, and the less you have to take care of.

6. Remove Extra Packaging 

When bringing home bags or boxes, remove the contents and strip those items of outer packing as much as possible. That is making the stuff truly yours. It also makes the item(s) ready to be organized within your home. This process is a critical step we follow when organizing a space. You want to have everything as visible and ready to be used as possible. Removing all unnecessary packaging also saves lots of space and makes all items of the same kind look the same. The more homogeneous your collection, the more functional the system is and the prettier your areas look.

7. Discard Trash At Once

Entertained garbage makes up for most of the clutter in every household. If you commit to removing the packaging of what you bring home, then go the distance and trash the garbage instead of allowing all the extra packing to linger around your home until who knows when. 

8. Process Mail Efficiently

Keep a recycle bin, a shredder, and a tray or sorter to process the mail. Preferably have your filing cabinet where you process the mail. Most of the mail you receive is junk. Throw it away before it can clutter your home. Also, be a knowledgeable shredder; only those documents with account numbers, social security numbers, medical information, or bank offers need to be shredded. Having a shredder right where you sort the mail allows you to take care of this immediately. Too often, I find boxes full of documents that need shredding cluttering my clients’ lives. Over concerns about safety compounds the problem. When we do not know what we should destroy, we accumulate more paper over time. Also, it is critical to have a mail sorting and filing system that works for you. This way, you process bills on time, and things needing filing won’t float around the home. Every piece of paper to keep needs a file.

9. Plan Ahead

Take a few minutes to prepare for the next day at the end of each day. Evaluate your “to do” list and set out everything you need to go through your planned errands the next day.

10. Practice Strategic Scheduling 

Scheduling is logistics 101. College business programs include courses on administration and logistics, with algorithms to determine the optimal sequence of events to complete a project or the most efficient routes to get around. Of course, you don’t need to go to such an extent, but you can gain significant efficiency and add more time to each day with some planning ahead.

11. Clean Out Bags Daily

Whether it is your handbag, weekender, kids’ sports bags, or suitcases, emptying the contents of all bags allows you to assess what needs replacement, needs to be washed, trashed, or placed somewhere else. This practice is particularly beneficial in helping you plan for the following day or week. If you are a paper kind of person and love to write little reminders and notes to yourself throughout the day, emptying your bag consistently helps you remember that idea you wanted to pursue. Those reminders might be the start of more significant plans in the scope of your life.

Consistency Is Key

These 11 steps might not seem like much, but when combined and executed consistently, they will show a big difference in your life.


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