Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The best gifts to get the clutterer in your life

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The last thing that special person in your life needs, who also happens to be challenged by too much stuff, is more stuff.

Some people have too many useless or long forgotten objects to fill up a void in their lives, especially if they live alone. Others hold on to things to hold on to memories. There are also those who keep things for their potential use. Unfortunately these things rarely if ever get used. Fear of loss or pain is another reason people keep things they don’t really need.

Instead of buying one more thing, here’s a list of my favorite gifts for that special “collector” in your life. The best part of these gifts is they involve spending time with you! Because if you are reading this, you are probably pretty special too.

  1. A personalized gift certificate from you for a special experience or outing you could enjoy together.
  2. Gift card to their favorite restaurant.
  3. Tickets to a concert or an event.
  4. Gift certificate for a consultation with a professional organizer. Be sensitive with this one. Do it only if you know them well and you have asked them if they would like some expert advice.
  5. A month’s subscription to their favorite entertainment streaming service.
  6. Membership to a local health club.
  7. Gift certificate for a class they’ve been talking about taking.
  8. Tickets to a local tourist or holiday attraction and offer to go with them.
  9. A trial membership for a healthy food delivery service.
  10. Have a favorite photo or piece of art, professionally framed for them. It won’t add to their clutter and it will remind them of you and something or someone they love.

Wishing you a joyous, peaceful and organized holiday season.

Office in your bedroom? Don’t lose sleep over it

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Desk as bedside table

How to keep your office organized when it’s is in your bedroom

You are finally in bed after a long day. You cover yourself with a blanket; feel the warm comfort of your pillow beneath your head and the soft, cool sheets against your tired body. You begin to relax into a night of slumber when you are suddenly startled by the pinging sounds of your computer sending notifications about tomorrow’s busy day. You get up and turn down the volume and get back in bed. That’s when you notice the pile of papers strewn across your desk, in varying heights and reminding you of a slew of unfinished tasks, unpaid bills and projects still yet to be started. You shut your light out, hoping in darkness you will forget the site of all that you have left undone. All of a sudden you see the blinking of all your devices in random rhythms, your router, your modem, your phone.  Your room lights up with a blue blinking glow. You cover your face with a pillow and somehow manage to fall into an exhausted sleep.

In general, I don’t think a bedroom is a great place for your office. Your bedroom should be a place of respite, relaxation and most of all sleep. Yet sometimes, there is no choice. Space is at a premium. You share a home or an apartment and there is no other available space to work.

This doesn’t mean you should lose sleep when your office is in your bedroom. Here are some ways you can minimize those distractions without sacrificing your personal productivity.

  • Hide your desk. Space permitting, hide your desk behind a free-standing, decorative folding screen or room divider. You can buy them online or in most home decor stores. When it’s time to leave work, simply pull the screen around your desk.
  • Shut out and shut down. Turn off or block digital noise and distractions. If you can’t hide your electronic equipment, things like your modem, router, or fax/printer behind or under your desk, place a small piece of dark blue painter’s tape over the lights that blink. Painter’s tape will not harm your equipment and can be easily removed or re-placed. This is especially recommended if you use a guest room for your office. You don’t want your guests losing sleep from all the pings and blinking lights.
  • Re-purpose and reposition. If your room is configured for it, why not turn your desk into a combination bedside table-workspace. That way, you are no longer looking at the desk from your bed. You’ll need a lamp on your desk anyway, so why not make it your bedside lamp. You can also leave a little room nearest your bed for a book or notepad, a place to put your reading glasses, a small plant or decorative item, and a clock or device with an alarm.  In other words, all the things you would need nearby while you’re working.
  • Clear the decks. Surfaces are notorious clutter catchers. No matter what size the surface, they have a way of getting covered with things. Just like you have a home, everything in your home should have a home. Take the time each day to survey what you have on your desk or work surface and decide 1) Can I toss it? 2) Does it need to live on my desk? 3) where else could it live in my home?  Then toss it, move it or take it back to where it lives. No more homeless items!
  • Create vertical storage. Install simple bracket or wall-shelves above your desk area for less frequently used items, books, or reference materials. Use decorative boxes in like colors to contain surplus office supplies. Get these all off your desk and on to a shelf to free up space for working, creating and being more productive.
  • Equalize your workspace. Before leaving your desk for bed, take 60 seconds to put loose items in drawers, loose papers in a stack or contain them in a shallow box (e.g. an “in-box”). Review your calendar and most important to-dos for the next day. Then shut off your computer (or put it in “sleep mode”) along with all other unnecessary electronics. You’ll save money on your electric bill and may even get a few more Zs tonight.

 

If you can breathe, you can learn to be more organized

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Take A Deep Breath

 

While I was in Mexico on vacation recently, I read this wonderful book by Kimber Simpkins, a writer and Berkeley-based yoga teacher, entitled Full: How I Learned to Satisfy My Insatiable Hunger and Feed My Soul.

I was pleasantly surprised to come to a part in her book when she recounts a day organizing a closet and specifically addresses the ideas of space, fulfillment, emptiness and forgiveness, all relevant to the work I do as a professional organizer.

“One Monday, morning,” Simpkins begins, “I cleaned, cleared out debris, organized, and straightened, all to make room for a different fullness to come in.”  

She continues, comparing the process to her yoga practice, and more specifically, to the idea of breathing.

“Just like us humans…to inhale, we exhale completely first, creating emptiness, a vacuum, and then we fill that space once again with the breath.”

Like yoga, or even conscious breathing, organizing is a practice, one that develops over time, practiced over and over, until it becomes habit. Like breathing.

Creating the physical space in your life invites other things, perhaps previously undiscovered things, realizations and new habits – to emerge.

Once space is emptied, it is only then we have the “space” in our minds to consider what that space should contain again.

We bring conscious intention to those decisions and in doing so to our outer and inner lives as a whole.

This is why I love what I do!

Lis

 

Don’t do this to your children!

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Organizing Cartoon

You may think your children and grandchildren are interested in your life, and they are, but they will never want, nor have the time, to sort through your collection of old newspaper clippings, war memorabilia, beany-babies and logo t-shirts, unless this is the legacy you leave them.

Yes, your life has meaning. Yes, you want to be remembered after you go, but do you really want your kids to have to spend days, weeks and perhaps months, sifting through the things you cared so much about you stored them in your basement?

Unless they have already expressed an interest in these items, or they are archivists (or writers maybe), don’t assume they will find your life to be as fascinating as you think it is or was.

If you really want to pass on some of your life’s possessions, take the time now to curate what you own. In other words, downsize and decluttter that garage, attic, basement and external storage unit of all the stuff you’ve been “saving” for your kids that they can’t really use and definitely don’t want.

Unless you had a notable career where your life’s work may be of interest to the general public or as part of a special collection, don’t assume your children are so enamored of you that they will establish a museum in your honor.

They really don’t want your grandmother’s 12-piece china set, especially if it can’t go in the dishwasher!

If you have been storing their childhood toys, clothing, art and schoolwork, ask them if they still want them and set a deadline for collecting them. You are not a public storage facility.  If they are grown, it’s time for them to claim their stuff or get rid of it themselves.

Still feeling attached to little Katie’s first drawing? Take a picture of it. Then donate what’s still usable — good quality clothing and gently used items that you would imagine buying yourself in their current condition — and recycle or dispose of the rest.

As a veteran professional organizer who has literally seen it all, please take my advice:

If you want to leave them a legacy, leave them with the gratitude they will have for you for not having to put their own lives on hold to deal with all your stuff when they already have plenty of their own.

It may sound odd or morbid, but if they are adults, take the time now to ask them what they really want of yours after you go. If that’s a conversation that seems impossible, then ask them to send you a list of what they want or alternately, write a list of what household items you want each of them to have. Consider including the list as part of your Will. Most of all, give them permission to say “thanks but no thanks.”

After my mother passed three years ago, my sister and I spent several weeks clearing out her home. I kept relatively little in part because my mother lived in New York and I’m in California and it costs a lot to ship items. Fortunately my sister and I didn’t want a lot of the same things.  When we did, we negotiated.  It was hard enough finding new “homes” for the usable items we didn’t want, let alone arguing over them, in the midst of our grief.

Whatever issues or conflicts exist between your children now, will be that much worse after you go.  Do you really want your legacy to be your kids fighting over who gets your collection of vintage Santa Claus statues?

Don’t do this to your children!

 

 

How to take the stress out of moving

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How many times have you moved?

 

Moving is one of life’s most stressful and time-consuming events. As a professional organizer and move manager I believe it doesn’t have to be.

Imagine you had a trusted professional to plan your move, vet and then hire great movers you can trust and direct them on pack and move day according to your specific needs.

Imagine you had expert help to figure out where everything will go; All your unwanted items sold or donated; Your old home, empty and ready to be staged for sale, rental or remodeling – even if you can’t be there!

Now imagine that before the moving van pulls away, a team of caring and careful organizing specialists are already busy unpacking and setting up your kitchen, baths, bedrooms and storage areas – logically and aesthetically – according to your wishes so you can start enjoying life in your new home instead of living out of boxes for weeks!

If you ever thought,  “I can’t do this again,” this is what we do at LET’S MAKE ROOM (in addition to helping you organize your home and office when you’re not moving).

This month I’ve made it possible for you to know exactly what you need to do to plan for a less stressful move using this convenient checklist  based on everything I’ve learned as a veteran professional organizer and move manager.  Download your copy and use it to help plan your next move.

You deserve it!

 

This will make you more organized

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Less_Is_MoreHave you dreamed of having a tidy, organized home or resolved every year to be more organized? There are literally thousands of books, magazines, articles and blogs (mine included) that will offer you all types of tips and ideas for how to live a more uncluttered, organized life. If I were to narrow it down to one, very simple idea it would be this: Less stuff. Here’s just a handful of reasons why having less will actually give you more!

  • Less to distract you
  • Less to remind you of bad memories
  • Less things you can’t find when you need them
  • Less money spent on duplicates
  • Less time spent getting organized and more time being and feeling organized
  • Less arguing with your family because of clutter
  • Less to pack when you want to remodel or move
  • Less to unpack after you’ve moved
  • Less storage needed (and less money spent on outside storage)
  • Less chance you’ll overlook an important bill or task
  • Less chance you’ll misplace something important
  • Less stress on your family
  • Less loneliness when you’re too embarrassed to entertain at home
  • Less of what is cluttering your life!

I could probably go on and on because the benefits of having less of what you don’t love or need far outweighs the burden too much unnecessary stuff often brings.

It’s not about “minimalism” unless that’s your thing. It’s about choosing, every day, to love what you have and only keep what you need and use!

Just because something “can be used” doesn’t mean you should keep it. When was the last time you used it? What is the likelihood that you will use it? If you haven’t by now, chances are you won’t.

Do a web search for “donate stuff near me” and you will find a great list of charities eager for unwanted items in your community.

Jason Klare @jmklare with Everything but the House (EBTH) says it best:

Sometimes saying no to owning things can feel even better than saying yes to buying them in the first place. “

 

 

 

8 household items that can make you money

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The folks at EVERYTHING BUT THE HOUSE (EBTH) had this great slide show I wanted to share that shows 8 pretty common household items you may have that could earn you money. Keep them in mind next time you get on your next decluttering binge.

Healing the world, one pot-lid at a time

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Organized Kitchen From Above

To some people the idea of hiring a professional to help them organize their cluttered kitchen seems frivolous. After all, there are so many other truly tragic problems in the world.  Hunger. Disease. Poverty.  How could finding the best way to store a dozen pot lids compare to the problems of millions of people around the world struggling every day just to make ends meet?

When I think about the work I do as a professional organizer it reminds me that healing is also about controlling what my clients can control and recognizing that change even when personal and local can still have an impact.

It never ceases to gratify me when my clients express how much the transformation of their spaces  – whether it is their kitchens, offices, garages or bedrooms – has made them feel happier, calmer and more energized to tackle other challenge of their lives. Some have confided that the work we’ve done together made them happier in their relationships with their spouses, their children and their bosses.

Many of my clients do help solve the problems of the world. They include emergency room nurses, physicians, mothers, fathers and therapists of all types.  I think this is because the caretakers of the world are often the ones, not surprisingly, who are in the most need of  my help not because they are so disorganized but because they give their time over to the care of others and in so doing, have pushed their own well-being down their list of priorities.

So when a caretaker asks for my help, I know I’m doing more than just organizing their pots and pans, I’m making their lives just a little easier, a little less stressful, a little more peaceful.  It’s not brain surgery but it does make a difference.

Do you want more business cards or more business?

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It’s one of the first things we do as business owners. Create our business cards: 10 billion of them according to the Statistics Brain Research Institute. We’re so excited to have them; we give them out to as many people as possible. We’re not only giving them away, We’re collecting them too.  Which is why about 88% of them are thrown away.

That leaves a mere 1.2 billion of other people’s business cards that end up somewhere other than our recycle bins. Have you checked your desk drawer lately?

Practically every client I meet has a stack (or several stacks) of business cards stashed in their home or office. “When was the last time you looked at them?” I ask. “Oh, I don’t know, maybe never?”

So why do we keep so many business cards if we don’t ever do anything with them? It’s the same reason why we hold on to lots of stuff, not just business cards. We fear losing it because we might use it or need it…some day. Or we just don’t get around to going through them.

So there they sit, in decision-limbo. Hundreds, even thousands of cards, taking up valuable storage space and most importantly leaving potential business revenue on the table, or in this case in the drawer.

Think about it. If you don’t do anything with that business card, isn’t it just clutter?

Still not convinced? Consider this: The next time you need to hire anyone for anything, where would you go to get a recommendation? I’m guessing it’s not to that stack of dusty cards you’ve kept buried all these years.

There are only three circumstances I would recommend holding on to a business card:

  • When you have hired them or expect to in the immediate future
  • When you want them to hire you, (or at least refer you) in which case you should have a plan for capturing them in your customer database or for marketing purposes
  • When you want to take your first exchange with them to the next step, such as asking them out for coffee or on a date. Seriously!

So here’s my unforgettable tip for what to do with all business cards. For each card you have or have collected, ask yourself:

Do I plan to hire them?

Do I want them to hire (or refer) me?

Do I want to get to know them better?

 If you answer no, then let them go.

Just wait until they can’t see you do it. They’ll never know.

Your home’s “Most Wanted” space-thieves

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Clutter wants your home. It steals space from the most important living areas of your home or office so you are forced to find other “homes” for the things you truly value, need and use more frequently.

I think of clutter as a thief, stealing space so that you are unable to use it for whatever you had intended.  Here are some typical “space-thieves” and a few ideas for what you can do to deter them from stealing space in your home.

Food Storage Containers
Cardboard Boxes
Bags (paper and reusable)
Books
Magazines
Clothing
Linens, blankets and towels
Paper, paper and more paper
Cleaning agents and supplies
Holiday decor
Cords, cables and old electronics
Your adult children’s stuff from when they were kids

  1. Food storage containers
    Only keep containers with lids.  Keep no more than 5 for each size. If they smell or are broken, toss them​. The largest sets of food storage containers I see contain about 40 pieces. If you have more than that, you probably have too many.
  2. Cardboard boxes & shopping bags
    Toss (recycle) boxes that don’t have lids, and only keep the lidded kind, eg., banker boxes, for storing paper records (or if you are planning to move or remodel within the next 6 months). Don’t keep boxes for storing items other than paper records. Use bins that can do a better job of protecting what’s inside them from the elements. As for shopping bags, if you live in a state that requires using reusable bags, pick out your favorites but only keep the durable ones. No more than 10-15 grocery size. Keep them nested together and store a supply of them in your car or by your front door for when you go shopping. For paper shopping bags, keep only as much as will fit in one bag of equal size. Eg., About 10 paper shopping bags (doubled or not) will fit into a single paper grocery bag. The same for smaller “gift” or “lunch-size” bags. Don’t keep any without handles. Recycle them.
  3. Books & magazines
    Refer to my blog: How to let go of books with less tears. As for magazines, keep only those you are likely to refer to again such as collectible “special” issues or those you need for work or for reference.  Toss any “newsstand” type magazines that are older than three months, especially if you haven’t read them.
  4. Clothing
    Donate what you don’t love, have never used or worn (unless it has a sentimental attachment). Don’t keep anything that hasn’t fit you in a year, chances are by the time it does, it won’t be your style anyway. Toss or recycle anything that is ripped or stained. If you wouldn’t buy it, why would someone else?
  5. Linens, blankets and towels
    Toss (or recycle) anything that’s torn, stained or worn or has moth or beetle holes. Check out this link for tips on protecting your woolen items. Keep a maximum of 2 sets of sheets for warm and cold seasons. Consider donating unwanted linens or blankets to a homeless or women’s shelter. Unwanted towels are always appreciated by a local animal shelter or humane society.
  6. Paper, paper and more paper
    I have written extensively about this in previous blogs, but in short, toss anything that doesn’t pertain to you personally, doesn’t require you to do anything, is unlikely you will ever look at again AND you haven’t seen in ten or more years.
  7. Cleaning agents & supplies
    If you don’t clean (or have someone to clean for you) all the cleaning supplies in the world will never get your home clean. Also, if your surfaces are covered, no amount of cleaning agents will help until you get the stuff out of the way. Toss cleaning supply containers if they are almost empty, toxic items should be safely disposed of according to your county’s regulations. Don’t keep any items that are designed for surfaces that don’t exist in your home. For example, don’t keep a cleaner for blinds if your windows no longer have them.  Eliminate redundant products. Also, don’t keep a cleaning tool that has too many parts or is cumbersome to use. It will only discourage you from cleaning.
  8. Holiday decor
    Decking the halls even once a year can be very time consuming. If you haven’t used your “easter” decorations in over a year, or you no longer celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at home, get rid of the green hats and plastic shamrocks.  Toss broken, never used or cheap-looking supplies. Don’t keep wrapping paper remnants. If you inadvertently bought an item that you don’t like, don’t keep it for next year. Toss, recycle or donate it now!
  9. Cords, cables and old electronics
    For cords and cables, put a label on them as soon as you get them. Otherwise, keep only those you can match to an existing device. Look for electronic recyclers or free recycling events in your area for items you no longer use. Keep cables and cords separate from other electronic devices such as headsets or earbuds.
  10. Your adult children’s stuff from when they were kids​
    Give them one year from the day they’ve moved out to go through them unless you need to move yourself. Remind them at 3 month, one month and one week intervals that you want them to have what’s important to them. Trust me they want a lot less than you think and you will be far more sentimental about their stuff than they will be but they still should have an opportunity to decide what they wish to retain.  If they are far away, take photos or make a list and ask them to decide by a certain date.