Monday, December 26, 2016

Forward motion towards a minimalist lifestyle

I have been on a quest for so long, I did not even know I was on it, until I read Marie Kondo's book and subsequently purged my sewing box. Being a professional organizer, I am much more organized and have less clutter than most so I had already purged the cursory stuff like clothes, books, and paper. However, as I have been whittling down my stuff, everything became so clear. I have a five bedroom house to accommodate having four children but as CEO of the house, the common areas were all my responsibility. Now that they are all starting to move out I realized that I have way too much stuff.

If you are a young family reading this, realize that you don't need all of the stuff that you think you need to grow your family. The children don't care that you have an entire cabinet for arts and crafts. If they want to do arts and crafts they will find the supplies. My daughter used to make doll clothes out of tissues. Also, the children don't care that you have three snow suits for them. They kind of don't even care that you have one. If they want to go in the snow, they will find a way to stay warm.

If you are a family already in mid progress, start getting rid of the stuff now. When a child outgrows one phase, don't hold on to the items (unless the next one is showing interest in the items). As my teen aged son told me, "I am no longer the 8 year old who go outside, rides his bike and then comes in and plays leggos (but you can't get rid of the leggos, smile)." Well at least I can get rid of the now too small bike.

If you are approaching empty nest or already there, now is the time to really downsize and live the minimalist lifestyle that has been a glimmer in your eye. It is a process. Start with the big stuff. Get rid of furniture that is broken or that you don't like. Give everything to your children now. Why wait until you die. They could be enjoying it now. Get rid of the big soup pots (unless of course you make a big pot of soup every week that you share with your grown children and friends. Pare down office supplies, bags, good china, books, clothes (yes again), toiletries. PARE DOWN EVERYTHING.

As I  continue to work with elders, I realize that they have called me to help them purge because they have way too much and don't have the energy to do it themselves. I could go on and on about this topic, but the message is clear. Purge on!


Thursday, December 15, 2016

The O’s have it. Tips for making lasting changes.


No matter what you are changing, whether it is implementing a new computer process or getting personally organized, remember these tips. : O
1
.      Own it! Don’t rely on anyone else to make the change for you. Only you can do it. But you can get all the support you need to keep you on track.
2
.      Outstanding attitude. Keep smiling and eventually it will get easier.
    
     Ongoing commitment. Whenever you start to get discouraged remember that you did not get to where you are overnight so it will take a while. Keep at it. Eventually it will stick with you.

Happy change.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Is it better to give stuff or experiences?

Are you a person who values experiences that you have had? When you go on vacation do you have to purchase souvenirs to remember the experience? Are he traditions that you have with your family the most memorable part of the holidays?

If you answered, YES to the above, then you probably value experiences more than the stuff related to them. Then why do you have so much stuff?

Being caretaker of our stuff can be a full time job. How can you possibly have time for experiences if you are too busy caring for your stuff?

At some point in your life you began collecting the stuff. Now how are you going to purge it so you can stop spending time caring for it and start spending time enjoying expericences.

Friday, December 2, 2016

An organizer's view of the Holidays

What do you do during any holiday (including birthdays)? Spend time preparing for it. Inviting people. Cooking extra food. Buying and wrapping gifts. Decorating. When the pace of life was slower, a celebration was a chance to give a person something to look forward to. Now it is only another set of tasks to complete. Even if you have a party planner, you have to make more money to be able to pay the person. So you are still busier than if you did not celebrate the holiday. And you have to attend the celebration. Whether it is at home with a few people or at a function hall. And the gifts! Who needs more items? For what? To maintain? For me to come in and help you purge. This holiday think about spending time relaxing with family and friends instead of creating a storybook retail laden celebration.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

5 Top Tips for Organizing Your Email



When utilizing an electronic mailbox, you need to keep it clear so you know what e-mails require your action. If you use your In-Box to store e-mails that have been read and may be acted upon, then you will have to scroll through them when you are looking for a particular e-mail. Keeping your In-Box Full is like taking all of the papers around your house and putting them on your desk. If you don’t have a system to filing them, they are much harder to retrieve.

Here are some quick tips to storing emails.

1. Filing E-mail
ü  Create a Completed Folder with sub-folders by subject or topic.
ü  Create Work In Progress Folders within In-Box

2. When you receive an e-mail:
A.    Decide what task needs to be completed as a result of the e-mail and when you are going to do the task
B.    Capture the task on your task list by either typing it or dragging the e-mail to task section of the email application
C.    Decide what to do with original e-mail
ü  Move it to Work In  Progress folder
ü  Move it to completed folder
ü  Print and delete it
ü  Delete original e-mail


Note:   If a folder for a project has been created, don’t forget to capture a task and the estimated completion date of the project. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

How to Organize without Getting Overwhelmed


When sorting items for getting organized start with the large (Macro) and then work towards the small or detail (Micro).  The macro can be large items like pianos and couches or it can be large categories of items like books and clothes.
Large items that are being purged will open up space for you to work. If you have an entire section in your basement or garage that you are storing for someone else, give them a deadline and have them remove it. Or if you have an old piano that you no longer want, get rid of it. The idea is objectively walk around your space and clear the big items that are no longer being used and remove them from the space.
Next use your zone detail worksheet to identify any groups of items that you have in excess. If you can’t make that determination, start with books. Gather them from all the places that they are stored: book shelf, kitchen table, bathroom, floor next to bed, car, office, next to TV, coffee table. You will be amazed at how many you really have when you start putting them in one place.  Remember this stage is to SORT. Getting the like items together you will be able to see what you have and be better equipped to purge.
That’s all there is to the macro sort.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Best Way to Organize Your Home

As I was teaching a class on organizing recently, it occurred to me that the secret of organizing is knowing how to SORT. It is really that simple. The first step in that process is determining what zones you will need. Think about the zones in your life and what  you truly need to complete the tasks in that zone. See below for some same zones and the location that you do them.

  • Eating - Kitchen
  • Sleeping - Bedroom
  • Exercising -  Outdoors
  • Cleansing - Bathroom
  • Dressing - Bedroom
  • Storing - Attic
  • Processing Paperwork - Office
  • Relaxing - Den
It is the more granular zones that prevent people from being organized. When you are first starting don't get obsessed with sorting to the granular level. Instead of separating pens, pencils, and markers just create the larger zone of "writing utensils". After you get larger categories of like items together you can start sorting to the more detailed level. 

I have created a Zone Detail Worksheet with some of the more common zones. 


See if you can identify the ONE place that you have the items stored. It may be easier to look at the spaces that you already have in your home and or office. Give a critical eye to look at what the area was originally intended for and what it is actually being used for. Don’t be afraid to obsolete some zones that you may no longer need. If you have a zone for your skiing supplies but have not skied in years, there may be no need to have a zone for that task.


Do you have any items that do not belong in any category shown? Do you need to create a new category?  List these new categories at the bottom of the worksheet. Every item should belong to a category, even if it is only a category of one.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Simple Daily Routine Chart (free) for Children


Simple Daily Routine for Children


A step to becoming organized is learning how to set and follow routines. It did not occur to me how important routines are until I had children and how important it is to instill routine in children. Luckily for me I sent them to a Montessori preschool in which routine was a huge part of the teaching. Right from the start they learned to always hang their coats on the same hook and put their lunch box on the same shelf. When I saw how well the children adapted to the routines at preschool, I decided to put routines into place at home.

As an organizer who works with parents of school aged children, I often get statements like: "my little one doesn't listen" or "he just throws the coat right on the floor next to the coat rack". As a parent it is our job to teach them how to be an organized adult.

See the Simple Daily Routine Chart that I have created: Simple Daily Routine for Children
For children that cannot yet read or for those that like more color, you can have them put stickers next to tasks or decorate it in a way that they will remember what the task is. Then laminate it and use an expo marker each week to check off items.

When you are implementing the routine chart you have set expectations. This is the conversation. "Can I go outside to play?"
"I don't know? Did you unpack your lunchbox and your backpack? Did you do your homework? ... " List all the items on the list for that time period. If one is no, then they need to go back and do it. Pretty soon they will learn to not ask until they have completed all of their routine tasks.

I have also had comments that some children need to get out their energy or relax before doing the routines. That is fine. Just set a time limit so they have a set schedule to work on their routine. If you don't they and you will be trying to cram everything a half hour before bed.



Thursday, October 27, 2016

How to Let Go of Stuff


One of the most difficult parts to being successfully organized is letting go of all unused items. Why is it that we have such an attachment to so many materialistic things? Having luxurious items can create the idea of leisure or make one feel wealthy. Or you don’t give the items much thought. In essence excess items are tying you down and causing you more work to maintain them all.

So how do you reduce all of the extra frivolous items? How do you build the strength or courage to let go of the excess items?
Let us practice with the clothes closet. When staring at your closet what do you see? A colorful arrangement of clothes and accessories crammed into the tiny space? To start the letting go process, take everything out of your closet that you haven’t worn in one year. Now put them into large trash bags. You don’t have to donate them just yet. Just move the bag to a place in the house that you don’t often go (the basement or garage for example). How does it feel? Now is when you need strength. Try to get by without the items. Within a month or two you will eventually be able to get rid of them.
Did you need the dress you had been saving,“just in case”, or the suit that is too small and you might fit into it again?  The answer is probably no. Let someone else who actually needs the items use the item that you’ve been storing. What a relief to have the items gone.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Top 6 Items to Purge

Welcome to the OrganizER Blog. Although this blog is officially starting via electronics on October 20, 2016, I have been collecting content since the 1980s. Back then ideas were posted on the old fashioned item called PAPER and pictures and ideas were pinned to a bulletin board or scrap book. For this first post, I want to tell you where I am today with organizing.


Get rid of all the stuff!
I have been trying for years to keep my items at a minimum. I have made lists upon lists (which you will read during future posts) of ideas of what to keep and how to organize it.
No matter how hard I try to live a simple life with few possessions, I have been unsuccessful. Here is the first list to contemplate. This represents extra items that can potentially be purged.
  • Books
  • Games
  • Decorations
  • Movies
  • Craft Supplies
  • Paper
Does it matter?  Even if I purged my own stuff, society always produces more.  And I will probably consume what is produced. What will it take to change this over-consuming/over-producing society?

Let's start with keeping our own environment with as little belongings as necessary. Go.