10 Things That You Can Let Go Of That You Won’t Miss From Your Life

organized-family-room1

The longer I’ve worked as a Professional Organizer the less items I have retained in my life. As Albert Einstein once said – “Out of clutter, find simplicity”. In no way do I lead a minimalist lifestyle but I do find that every time I release myself of something I no longer use or have need for, I feel a sense of calm and organization in my life.

I have purged myself of quite a few things over the years and have not missed them at all. Here are a few items you may still have I’ll bet you will not miss too.

Anything you keep because it reminds you of someone.

Many of us keep items to remind us of a loved one that has passed on. That loved one will always be in your heart. But if you really need to keep something as a reminder consider a treasure box that can be hung on a wall to see the items each day rather than having items stored away in a box (probably in your basement).

Cookbooks

I used to keep several cookbooks in the cupboard over the stove. Now I keep just a few recipes that I enjoy in a binder. I also use a couple of apps on my electronic device and the Internet holds more recipes than a million cookbooks ever could.

Music libraries

A few people I know are music aficionados and I do understand their need to keep a library of vinyl (even though it is probably another fad) but beyond that we don’t truly need to keep CD’s anymore with digital music available in so many formats.

cd-collection

I was shocked (and secretly pleased) when my husband finally went through his library and donated a couple of hundred CD’s.

CD and DVD players

Speaking of which, how many CD and DVD players do you have in your home and how often do they get used?

Clothes

This is the probably the biggest challenge I face in many of the projects that we do. If an item of clothing is worn or damaged or doesn’t flatter you, get rid of it. So many people could use your hand me downs.

Shoes

Same with shoes. Shoes that look worn can make an entire outfit look horrible. If they are worn or uncomfortable get rid of them. Why keep them if you don’t like to wear them?

shoes

The money you spent is gone and keeping them isn’t going to bring that back.

School items from your past

I know you’re proud of that high school trophy you won over 20 years ago but when is the last time you took it out to show it off and brag to your friends? I thought so.

Small Appliances

Bread makers and ice cream makers were a pretty hip thing to have. The eighties called and said it was OK to donate them.

Exercise equipment

Only you know when you are going to get back into exercising and if you can’t say when that time is specifically, then it is time to sell those pieces that are taking up valuable real estate. You could use the money to help pay for a gym membership.

Anything with an expiration date

Go through your fridge and your cupboards and check your expiration dates. Those dates aren’t cast in stone but if enough time has gone by, especially if an item has been opened please toss them rather than risk your health. And if you have anything that is still good and you don’t use please donate to a food bank. They can always be used to feed someone less fortunate.

A very important rule to follow while you de-clutter your life : do not take responsibility for items that do not belong to you. Instead, lead by example and I’m sure the others will follow.

So there you have ten items that I think, for the most part, you won’t miss and will create more space, make your home less cluttered and perhaps reduce a bit of your stress. If you think you may need some help in the de-cluttering process we are just a call or email away.

 

 

 

 

Organizing Your Garage – 4 Things You Must Do

garage

I hate to say it, but winter is just around the corner and it’s time to get the garage ready to put your car in there for the winter. I can’t tell you the number of garages I see with possessions stacked to the ceiling.

It can be the absolute worst place to store items due to the condensation coming from the concrete floors and walls and the changing temperatures. I see a lot of garages turned into man caves (smoking rooms) too with fridges, heaters and big screen TV’s.

In our home, we have a single car garage and that’s where my car goes in the winter. My husband readily agreed to that to avoid having to clear off a second car after a winter storm. So, let’s get out to the garage and get it ready for the winter.

Get rid of what you don’t need

The garage is an easy place to dump things and get back to them ‘later’. Especially when there are no cars in there. In North America, almost half of homeowners admitted that the garage was the most disorganized area of the house. It’s little wonder that we receive a lot of calls regarding garages.

garage-4

Tackle the garage with the same mindset that you do with the rest of the house. If you haven’t used an item in over a year it is time to sell, donate or toss it.

Chemical “freezies”

Now that you have gotten rid of what you don’t need any longer let’s get ready for the cold weather. Place all of your liquids in a tote or box and bring them inside. They won’t freeze or gel and will still be good for next spring and summer.

Don’t forget the garden hose. If it’s on a reel, I like to unwind it to get the water out and then rewind it, disconnect the main hose and take the reel off the wall with the hose attached and store it inside. Sometimes it’s tricky to get all of the water out of those plastic fittings in the reel but this has saved us buying a new reel.

Store it high

Most garages are nine or ten feet high or more. Give some thought to storing things high with either ceiling racks, tall shelving or using manual or electric ceiling hoists for bikes. Some affordable ones can be found at your local hardware or big box store. If you are really in a pinch for space consider a small storage box or deck box for some items.

Zone in

When arranging the items you’re keeping in the garage designate a shelf for each type of item and label each shelf accordingly. Car accessories such as windshield wash and ice scrapers on one shelf, driveway salt on another and kids winter accessories on yet another.

garage-5

This will help with easy retrieval when needed. Containerizing goes a long way to keeping items in place. And labels are important!

Organizing your garage and getting it ready for winter doesn’t have to cost a lot but it will take some time to do it correctly. If you do need assistance in creating space to get your car in the garage for winter, contact us here. ClutterBGone has done that for a lot of people just like you.

Get Organized Week

get-organized-sign

Get organized week just past, being the first week of October. Now’s a great time to take part in Get Organized Week with Thanksgiving just over and the Christmas holidays approaching fast. What did you do to get organized?

Being organized isn’t just having a home that looks neat and tidy and where everything has a place. It is also about being able to easily retrieve items you need, not needlessly spending money on items you already have, not having any safety hazards in the home and not wasting precious time. Here’s a quick list of benefits that I promise you will see when you are organized.

Increase your productivity

How many hours do you spend looking for things? If you are part of the national average you are spending one year of your life looking for things. A recent IKEA survey showed that we spend 6 minutes on average looking for our keys in the morning! Newsweek says that we spend 55 minutes each day looking for things we own but can’t find. Get some of that time back and be more productive with your time by being organized.

Improve your health

We all know that stress is a killer and stress can be caused by something as easily as not being able to find something important when you need it.

stress

When you’re organized you will have less stress resulting in more relaxation time or time to do just about anything you want to do. Sound good?

Save money

How often have you gone out and purchased something that you just knew you didn’t have, only to find out shortly after that you did indeed have that item? Now you own more than one and sometimes you will never get any use out of the second one you have.

Do you pay late fees because you can’t put your hands on your bill? You do know that late payments reflect poorly on your credit rating. Get organized and save money.

Be an example to your family

Often when I make an initial visit to a client I find out that they came from a family of disorganization.

familypic

Their parents were disorganized with clutter and they didn’t know any way else. Being organized is a skill that will benefit your children throughout their lives in school, at work, and in their own home.

This is just four of the many benefits to being organized. Get Organized Week may have just past but it is not too late to become organized. Give us a call and we can let you know of the many more benefits to being organized.

Fight Procrastination And Stay On Top Of Clutter

now-later

Fight Procrastination Day came up earlier this month and it got me thinking about how procrastination really is one of the root causes of clutter, beyond those with a hoarding tendency. There are so many comical quotes about procrastination but it really is a serious issue for a lot of people.

“Procrastination isn’t the problem, it’s the solution. So procrastinate now, don’t put it off.” ― Ellen DeGeneres

When your to-do list is a mile long or the house looks like a tornado touched down, it is so much easier to put de-cluttering and organizing off. But you have to get to it at some point. Here are a few tips to help you avoid procrastinating and staying on top of your clutter.

The two-minute rule

If what needs to get done can be done in under 2 minutes, do it now! I know you’re really busy but in the scheme of things what is two minutes compared to the results you will see? This one simple rule alone will have a life changing effect on your home. We tend to put off the smaller, simpler tasks, which ultimately build up, so applying this rule will eliminate a lot of clutter. For example, when you get home with bags from the store, empty and put items away immediately rather than leaving them lying around.

A done list instead of to-do

If you feel overwhelmed with the volume and scope of work that needs to be done around the house, try starting a “done” list and mark down each task you have completed that day. You will see that although it may look like you will never get through everything, in fact, you did complete more than you thought.

Break it down

Does your room look like a wrecking crew came through? Don’t know where to start in the kitchen? Break the job down into smaller tasks to see your accomplishments as you go.

where-do-i-start

Tackle just one corner of a room or one drawer and don’t stop until you complete the task.

Know when you are at your best

We all don’t function our best at the same time. Try getting me to perform at my peak level early in the morning. It isn’t going to happen. Know your best time of the day when you are at your peak energy level and get started then. You can focus better and be more productive.

No drop zones

Do not allow any surface in your home to be designated as a drop zone. This is going to be tough to enforce with the kids and your spouse but do not let them come home and drop things on the hall table or kitchen counter to be put away later.

clear-counters-in-ktichen

Remember the two-minute rule? It applies to them as well. They can put things away when they get home in less than 2 minutes.

The cost of procrastination

The obvious costs are late payment charges for late bill payment and failing grades for school assignments not handed in on time. More serious is your credit rating being down graded and not being able to enjoy a social life for fear of embarrassment or you need to stay home to get things done.

Have you ever bought a last minute gift for someone that you regretted?

“If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.” ― Rita Mae Brown

Procrastination is not a trait; it is something that is learned. I even know people who take vacation time from work to get things done at home that they have been putting off. That is no way to spend your well-deserved vacation time. A partially completed task weighs heavily on the mind. Get it done and take the weight off.

Let us know if ClutterBGone can assist you with any project that you have put off to get you back on track. Just contact us here.

Keeping Small Spaces Organized

apartment-shelving-organization

Many of the projects that we work on involve downsizing where people are moving from a larger home to something smaller and more manageable for them. Space can often be a challenge when you’re used to an abundance of storage. The same applies for people moving out of the home for the first time to a condo or apartment.

Here’s list of tips to help keep a small space organized.

Take advantage of the space you think you don’t have

What did she just say? You may have to get creative when dealing with the smaller spaces. Do you have space above your kitchen cabinets? Decorative baskets up there will hold cookbooks or smaller appliances that are seldom used. Space under the bed can be used to store off-season clothing in clear containers. Take a walk around your space with this thought process in mind. Look up and maximize your vertical spaces.

Keep things tidy

It’s especially important to keep a tidy home when space is limited. Even a plate on the counter or a couple of magazines out of place can cause a cluttered look.

kitchen-counter-neat

Stay vigilant in putting things away and you will be surprised at how easy it is to keep your home looking tidy and organized.

Keep your counters clear

This is mandatory. I’ve been in several small condos where kitchen appliances are left out on the counter and it has made the entire kitchen look cluttered. When not in use (and many are not used all that often), store them away. And whenever possible purchase the smallest version of the appliance that you can, especially for a condo.

Look up

Take advantage of any opportunities that you may have to store vertically. Many new homes and condos being built today have 9-foot ceilings or taller. Use this extra space to store or decorate using higher shelving or taller built-ins and multifunctional pieces.

Store it off site

In a pinch, there is a host of off-site storage companies that have appeared as they know people are always looking for space. The newer ones have all inside storage, 24-hour camera security and free use of dollies and carts.

self-storage

Rates can be very competitive as well so if there are items you just can’t fit into your new place and cannot bare to part with, outside storage is an option.

Purchase multi-functional pieces

When making purchases for your new space try to purchase multi-functional items like an ottoman that doubles as a storage trunk or a murphy bed that folds away. A room divider can also act as a wall unit or bookshelf. The ideas are endless.

Prioritize

Finally, take a real hard look at what you have and what you use. How often will you use that ice cream maker you received as a gift? Do you really have the space for 2 or 3 sets of dishes? When space is limited you need to prioritize between what you have and what you really need or will really use.

Living in smaller quarters certainly has its advantages – less to clean, less maintenance – but it takes a little work to keep it organized and looking uncluttered.

We have assisted countless individuals in getting ready to downsize and in creating space when you think there is none. If you think you need assistance, just contact us here. We would love to talk.

Exactly How Does Clutter Accumulate?

 

Organized living room

Clutter means different things to different people. Many of us can work in and actually thrive in, what others would consider a cluttered state. Others have to be in or work in a minimalist state. Whatever environment works for you, at some point we find ourselves with too much clutter around us. How does that happen?

Life happens

You are all so busy these days with raising a family, working (maybe even more than one job) or just not aware or caring what is accumulating around you. Some of you are able to see it as it happens and act on it and some just realize one day that you’re finding it hard to find things and spending more time looking for things or cleaning up than actually getting tasks completed.

Your energy is gone

With a busy life comes reduced energy levels and who wants to clean or organize after a busy week or weekend? You need to be in the mood and have a high level of energy to start the process.

Too tired dog

Starting without the ability to see it through will only defeat you and prevent you from going at it again.

Life has thrown you a curve

A critical illness or the loss of a loved one can leave you spinning out of control and put you out of commission for a very long time. You rarely go out and don’t have the energy to do anything at all. Depression can cause you to remove yourself from the rest of the world giving you the same results.

I know a lot of you tend to hang on to certain items thinking you’ll make use of them again whether it’s a broken appliance or maybe even some clothes that you think you’ll fit into again. Lean on your family and friends during these times for help and support.

But it was on sale!

What better way to feel good about something you bought then to know how much you saved? Want to save even more?

Sale

Don’t buy it at all unless you really need it and when you do make the purchase remember my rule on clothing – one in equals one out. If you find it hard to resist a good buy try to limit your trips to the mall or the big box stores.

Hoarding tendencies

Maybe you were raised in a household that always had clutter and you don’t know any other way. This cycle can be broken so you can enjoy more free time.

No matter how clutter appeared in your life or what your level of tolerance for clutter is, we can help.

ClutterBGone has helped many clients with all different levels of clutter and disorganization in their lives. If you need help, we’re here to give you a hand and see it through. Contact us here.

Garage Organization – A Case Study

Garage 3

ClutterBGone has organized quite a few garages over the years but there is one that stands out. This particular garage organizing job was quite challenging because the husband was not originally aware that his wife had hired us to organize the garage and challenging because of the weather – it was late fall with temps near zero and a mix of rain and snow coming down.

The garage had become a sore spot in the relationship to the point where it was either get it organized or get a divorce! I’m sure you have all seen those garages in your own neighborhood that are stuffed to the rafters with all kinds of stuff. This was a single car garage and was just like that. The husband reluctantly gave in provided he could assist us. This was actually the best scenario as whoever owns the items must be the decision maker in terms of what to keep and what needs to go. We honor and respect client’s “stuff” and so nothing can ever be tossed without the owner’s permission.

Garage

We started the project by bringing everything out to the driveway (remember I told you there was a mix of rain and snow?) and almost everything that was taken out was met with “I need that” or “I’m not going to get rid of that” from the husband. Hmm, this is going to be a tough one. Of course, our methodology is to first sort and categorize everything into piles and then make decisions on what to keep or go. We had to reassure the Mr. that we respected his belongings and nothing was leaving at this stage of the process. He was very anxious (understandably) so we ensured that we communicated constantly with him every step of the way. Managing client emotions and expectations is a large part of every downsizing and organizing project.

Once we had everything out we saw that there was a large workbench in the back of the garage (not visible earlier in the project) with a lot of tools to go along with it. The husband all of sudden became more interested. He had actually forgotten that he had a workbench in there and all these great tools that he had been looking for.

After sorting through everything both the husband and wife realized how much they had and the sheer volume and quantity of each item. Lots of duplication and money needlessly spent. They confessed that quite often they would give up looking for something and buy another – a common issue with people who live with disorganized chaos. After seeing the multiple tools, pieces of garden equipment, auto accessories, etc. they both agreed that things had gotten out of hand and they both dove in and made some great decisions – together. It was quite cathartic for them.

Garage 2

We got the OK to bring in a small dumpster to haul away the trash (unbeknownst to our clients, many items had active mold growing and others could not be recycled or repurposed due to pest contamination) and we separated the duplicate items to be donated, sold or given away to family. The husband spent hours at the tool bench reorganizing the tools and hardware and found many duplicate hand and power tools that he gave to his sons. He was like a kid in a candy store. A neighbor actually stopped by to see what was going on (I think he thought there was a garage sale happening) and ended up buying a power saw and a tool box from our client!

This garage organizing project took 2 full days with a team of 3 and on the second day our clients had brought us some portable heaters that they had borrowed for us. Boy, were they a welcome sight! We installed a couple of functional garage shelving units, put everything away in an efficient, functional and organized fashion, set up an organizing system on the wall and left them with an organized garage.

To this day (a year later) the garage is still organized, the couple are still together and they can even get a car in the garage for the first time in 10 years! We love transforming spaces and transforming lives!

If you need help with your garage organizing project we would be happy to hear from you.

Closet Organizers – What You Need To Do Before You Purchase

 

Closet 3

One of the favourite places to start an organizing project is the master bedroom closet. You go in and out of it a few times a day for clothes, shoes, bags and a lot more that you store in there. Many of my clients ask me about installing closet organizers and what I would suggest. There are many different types and styles for many different styles and budgets. Regardless of which style you decide on there are procedures to follow as you start your organizing project.

A picture is worth a thousand words

I like to take a picture of every project I start and then a picture when I finish so I can see the difference. Sometimes it’s difficult to see what you’ve accomplished without having the starting point to refer to. So before everything comes out and the closet organizer goes in, take a picture.

S-P-A-C-E

As you follow my blog you know this acronym of SPACE.

S = Sort everything into piles. These piles can be determined by you such as your bags, pants, scarves, etc.

P = Pare down what is no longer wanted or needed. Here is where you need to be tough on yourself. Do you need that many bags? Will you really want that item when you lose the weight? Keep only what you love and that you feel great in or about. A lot of these items would be welcomed by your local charity or gently used clothing shop.

A = Assign a home for what is left. Everything goes back putting like with like. Keep the colors together too.

C = Containerize what you can using clear plastic containers or decorative bins so it’s easy to see or know what ‘s inside.  Labelling is key in this regard. If hanging space is at a minimum, scarves or belts can fit into containers quite easily and some of my clients use clear shoe box size containers to hold each pair of shoes. Shoes stay clean, the containers stack well and you can easily pick out the shoes you need.

E = Evaluate every so often to ensure the system you implemented is working for you and that you’re not accumulating more. Remember the one in, one out rule.

Closet 1

Closet Organizing Systems – do this first!

If you’re putting a closet organizing system in yourself, make sure you have your closet measurements when selecting your closet organizing system. You’ll need the height, length and width and remember to take into account the baseboards and any crown mouldings. You don’t want to have to take a second trip to the store, or worse, be stuck with system pieces that won’t work for you.

Before purchasing any custom or do-it-yourself closet organizer ensure you first pare down and see the complete volume of each category of clothing and accessories you need to include in your closet. Otherwise the system you decide to implement may not be sufficient to functionally and efficiently hold all your items. You may need more shelves and drawers and less hanging room, or vice versa.

Closet 4

Maximize and take advantage of height and ensure you have at least 2 closet rods to double your hanging opportunity and maximize the space. Don’t forget to allocate hanging space for longer items.  Spend the extra few dollars and purchase all new hangers. You don’t want a new closet organizing system installed with a ragged collection of various sized and coloured hangers.

Research the various closet organizing products and systems on the market before you purchase. There are several price points available and all can be very functional for you. You don’t have to spend thousands to be organized.

If you are thinking of installing a closet organizer or having one installed soon, follow these tips to assist you to maximize your space. If you need help with getting your closets de-cluttered and efficiently organized, we at ClutterBGone have helped a lot of clients do just that. Whether you do yourself or not we would love to see your before and after pictures.

Breaking The Cycle Of Clutter and Chronic Disorganization – A Case Study

 

Decluttering Services Toronto

Not that long ago we were tasked with helping a client and her family declutter and organize their home. This was a special job in that both the husband and the wife had come from a background of severe clutter in their respective family homes where they grew up. In fact, both came from homes that bordered on hoarding and were never taught the benefits of an organized home let alone how to get organized.

If you don’t live in an organized home or teach your children the benefits of being organized, the lack of organization can easily contribute to poor grades in school and may end up affecting your performance on the job in the future.

Our clients realized the importance of home organization and, with a newborn in their home, they wanted to get organized, stay organized and teach this important skill to their own child. They saw their parents living in a state of clutter and chaos their whole lives, never inviting anyone into their home for fear of being embarrassed, so our clients decided to put an end to the cycle.

organized childs room

When living at their respective family homes they themselves developed their own social anxieties and felt shame when having friends over to play. They did not want this cycle to continue.

It was hard for them at first, having a team go through the house, working with them to sort, categorize, de-clutter and at times challenge them on what they wanted to keep or where they wanted to keep it.

Decluttering and organizing isn’t just throwing items away. It’s a process of determining what is important to you, thinking about how you function in your home, what is essential, and setting up a system that works for you in order to maintain a clutter free home after our work is completed.

We pride ourselves in being friends to the environment as well so any items that are leaving the home will be looked at for possible sale or donation before it’s deemed suitable for the trash.

Our clients were determined to see this project through and quickly became part of our team working alongside us as well as being the final decision makers. They saw that we were non-judgemental and our only aim was to ensure that we accomplished their goal of creating a clutter-free, organized and functional home that they would be proud to entertain in and have their child’s friends come over to play without embarrassment.

Teamwork

With the help of a few clear bins of various sizes, we found a home for all the necessary and important items and left our clients with a system that works for them and is relatively low maintenance. We even arranged for the removal of items that were leaving the house.

“I feel like it is a miracle that we have found your company, who non-judgmentally, works with us, and allows us to get to a better sense of self-worth as it relates to controlling our clutter and developing a welcoming safe haven for our child to grow up in. ” Their words, not ours.

I can’t think of a job that we’ve completed where we didn’t feel like we had helped our clients surpass their goals and complement their lives. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – We love what we do! We have a passion and drive to transform our client’s lives.

Organizing Statistics That Will Surprise You

Tidy-modern-living-room

As a Professional Organizer, I’m always reading about the effect of clutter and disorganization on personal and professional lives. I thought that I’d share a few statistics that surprised even me.

You all probably know the 80/20 rule in business. 80% of your sales come from 20% of your stock or inventory numbers. Well, the same rule applies to your home. 80% of what we keep rarely, if ever, gets used. Before you make that purchase make sure you’re going to get good use out of it, no matter what it is. And remember my golden rule for clothing – one in = one out.

Paper organized 2

Almost a quarter of adults surveyed (23%) admitted that they regularly paid bills late because they lost the bill. And almost all of these had incurred late fees as a result. A system needs to be set up so you have instant access to your unpaid bills and you know when they are due. After that, a filing system needs to be in place to file these paid bills.

Save money and protect your credit score by paying your bills on time.

Here’s a stat that I love to see. The TLC series Clean Sweep conducted a survey a few years back that indicated that 90% of Americans were planning on organizing a part of their life that year. 81% planned on performing a spring-cleaning and 74% of those were doing so because they were tired of clutter in their lives.

Most people planned to pare down their wardrobe first followed by a purge of the hall closet. Can you guess the one thing most people would never get rid of? Photos of their children.

Several years ago a Boston marketing firm conducted a study that found that the average North American wastes 55 minutes a day looking for things. These are things they know they have but can’t find. That works out to over 2 days a year. Would you like to get this time back by being a little better organized?

quality time

In the average home getting rid of clutter will result in about 40% less housework. Who wouldn’t want that? It’s estimated that 80% of the clutter in most homes is a result of being disorganized and not having enough space.

I can’t count the number of people we have assisted who have been amazed at the space they actually have once we get them organized and leave them with a plan to stay organized. No need to move thinking you have outgrown your home.

Lastly, the US Department of Energy estimated that 25% of people who own a two car garage don’t park any cars in there at all and that 32% of owners only parked one car there. We have all seen the people who use their garages as man caves with the TV’s and smoking areas but we have all also seen the garages packed to the rafters with personal belongings. The garage is probably one of the worst areas to store goods with the changing temperatures in our country, the dusty conditions and the concrete floor that attracts moisture. If you fall into this latter category we can help you find the space you need.

I hope you found these stats as interesting as I did. I will post a few interesting statistics on offices shortly. Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, if you need help organizing any part of your home we’re here to help. Just contact me here.