The Top 9 Things To Do When De-cluttering & Organizing Your Home

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When we perform our initial consultation and assessments with our clients we often get asked, “what are the top things are that should be performed to organize and de-clutter a home?” As a result, I’ve put together a list of the top 9 for your reading pleasure:

  1. Start with the closet
    For me, the front hall closet is often the place to start. It’s the first area you see when you come home to put your coat and shoes away and the first place your guests will see when they arrive. Plus, entry closets are generally quite small and therefore will not take much time giving you a sense of accomplishment that will carry you forward to other parts of your home.organized-closet-hall
  2. Flat surfaces
    If there is a flat surface anywhere, there is an opportunity to accumulate clutter.  It’s so easy to lay something down with all the good intentions in the world to put it away later.The trouble is, later never does come. Keep flat surfaces clear of clutter at all times.
  3. Junk drawers
    I’ve given up my fight against junk drawers realising that we all do need a place for miscellaneous items. Notice that I didn’t say “junk”? In my experience, we all spend more time looking for items in this drawer than in the time we use the item when we find it. Keep these drawers with only the necessary items and find a home for the rest.
  4. The wire octopus
    An area that often gets neglected are the wires that you always see peeking out from under desks and TV stands. With TV’s, cable boxes, sound systems, gaming consoles and computers all hooked up, there can be a lot of wires and cables to hide. There are a lot of choices to use to hide these cables and a lot of options to implement to keep these from tangling up.
  5. Bedroom closets
    Your bedroom closets provide a great opportunity to create more space. Add an additional rod to double your hanging capabilities and while you’re in there take the time to separate your clothes into piles of what you wear and what you don’t. There are a lot of consignment shops that will take your gently used clothing to sell and of course, there are a lot of charities that would love to repurpose what you don’t wear, provided they are in good shape.
  6. Kitchen counters
    How many of you keep a variety of small appliances on the kitchen counter? How many of you actually use these small appliances on a regular basis? Toasters, kettles and coffee machines are OK left out (as long as they are used) but keep the rest in a cupboard or drawer out of sight for a clean, organized look.Kitchen-Counter-Decor
  7. Use clear containers
    Clear containers are typically the only ones you will see me use. You can easily see what’s inside of a clear container as opposed to opaque and for small children, this is especially important so they can see where everything is and where it goes when they are done.
  8. Have a plan
    Besides #1 above, this is probably the most important of all. You know the old saying – those that fail to plan, plan to fail. Make a list of the areas in your home that you want to tackle. Rank them according to importance and the time you have.Make sure you have the necessary time and the tools to get the job done and go at it. Know where the donation centres and consignment shops are in your area if you are going to need them and get any items you are selling or donating out of the house asap. A pile of items left hanging around your house to dispose of is not going to give you the sense of accomplishment that you need.
  9. Call us. We’ll handle the other eight!
    In all seriousness, clients normally call us after they’ve made one or several attempts at de-cluttering or organizing themselves. Life gets in the way whether it’s work or family and the time that is needed for these projects often is not found.When we’re working on your project you have our full attention and dedication to a job that is going to wow you at the end.

Give us a call for a free telephone consultation for any organizing or de-cluttering project that is needed in your home, no matter how big or small.

The Right Way To Organize Your Papers

Hands searching through file folders with personal finance documents

When computers were first introduced, they were going to save the planet with all the paper they were going to reduce. Everything would be stored on computers and trees would be saved.

Well, many years later I think we’re producing more paper than ever and organizing all that paper is still a big challenge for many of you. Let me help you with some ideas on how to organize, and reduce much of that paper.

Deal with it now

The best way to organize paper of course is to deal with it as it arrives through your door. Rather than placing everything into an in box and getting around to looking after it later, deal with it when it comes into your home or office. Separate the junk from the required paper as soon as it arrives and recycle what you can. This will save you time in filing later and reduce the urge to save what’s not needed.

Go paperless

Easy to say for those that embrace technology but many of us have a reliance on being able to touch and keep paper. It’s a tactile thing.

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Take a real hard look at the paper that comes into your home each month and decide what you really have to have in paper form. Most of your bills can be sent to you electronically and can be paid that way too. If you have to save a copy for your records save the electronic copy to your computer where it can be stored and easily retrieved. Voila! Less paper right there.

Scan it and file electronically

If receiving your bills electronically isn’t for you than perhaps you want to scan the document after you have dealt with it and file it away on your computer. Dispose of the paper copy after it’s been scanned of course so you aren’t duplicating your filing system. Now you still have the document and it’s not taking up any space.

The “cloud”

For you “techies” you can store documents in the cloud.

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There are a host of secure sites that will allow you to store documents, pictures and a host of other things on servers that are maintained by companies like Apple and Google. Most of these sites will give you a certain amount of free storage that will generally fit your needs for quite a while.

Simplify

Filing and maintaining paper is not your favourite chore. Keep it simple to reduce the time spent filing and accessing paper. Rather than filing everything away alphabetically, create sub sections like Utilities, Taxes, Auto Expenses and similar. Create your files within these subsections to save time when filing and retrieving.

Make it a habit

Maintenance is the key to everything and filing is no different. Allot some time each month to review your files and toss what’s not needed. Discard the oldest statement when filing the newest and perform a good purge at the start of each year.

Paper can easily get out of control but with a little bit of discipline and utilizing some of these ideas you can better control the paper monster that you have in your home. If you aren’t up to the challenge of taming your paper clutter contact me at ClutterBGone to learn how we can assist you.

Exactly What Can A Professional Organizer Do?

Organized bedroom

When you hire a professional organizer you aren’t just hiring someone to come in and tell you what to keep and what to get rid of. A Professional Organizer does so much more. Most of us are trained by and are part of, the Professional Organizers in Canada.

We work with many different types of clients and deal with all sorts of situations in a professional and caring manner.

Besides the organizing and downsizing assistance that we provide, here’s a list of other services and knowledge that we bring to every client.

Moving assistance

A Professional Organizer can help you with moving, whether it’s you that is moving across town or across the country or whether you’re arranging for a loved one to downsize or move to another residence. We have the experience and training to pack safely and help you downsize and stay organized at the same time.

Organizing your crafts and hobbies

Many of you have hobbies and collections that take up a lot of space.

A Professional Organizer can help you display your treasures better, pack it for you or set up a system to help you keep track of what you love, all your supplies, materials and artistic endeavors saving you time to spend on your craft.

Home offices

Most homes now have an office that is used by the entire family to pay bills, spend leisure time on the computer or even connect to work. As a Professional Organizer, we specialize in getting filing systems implemented that work for you and your family.

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We also endeavor to create a system of paper organization such that should you become ill, someone else in your family or circle or friends can easily step right in and take over for you when you cannot.

We organize spaces to make you more productive and efficient and save you tons of time.

Small business offices

Document control, filing systems and productivity are a specialty of ours and we come into your office and first, see how you and all your staff work to come up with a system that works for all and gets the most productivity out of your office. We care for the environment and while we do that we initiate recycling and shredding policies and re-purpose items whenever possible.

As a Professional Organizer, we are sensitive to and protective of the environment and have a long list of partners and service providers that can assist if you wish to donate, sell or recycle a lot of what you have but no longer require. We can’t take it away ourselves but we do have reliable business contacts that can.

We are sensitive to your needs

We understand that for some clients it can be a bit embarrassing to ask for our help but that’s what we’re here for and that’s what we live for, to help you and transform your space and your life.

Organized space

We’re non-judgmental and also have experience in working with people that have hoarding tendencies, ADHD or just don’t have enough time, desire or physical ability to do it themselves. Sometimes you just need to bring in a professional.

In times of bereavement

When a loved one passes it can be difficult to tackle the possessions that they have left behind. Emotions can often make it difficult to take this on yourself. A Professional Organizer can take the reins to coordinate the sale, consignment or donation of items in the home paying particular attention to the wishes of the family.

These are just some of the many specialized services that professional organizers can provide. If you feel overwhelmed by an organizing dilemma, you don’t have to tackle it alone. Contact ClutterBGone here for an assessment for any of your organizing, downsizing or de-cluttering needs.

Clutter Awareness Week

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In our industry, the last week of March is National Clutter Awareness Week. Although you should be aware of clutter and its impact on your life every day, an awareness week is a great time to stop and take a look around for those of you that tend to put things off.

We don’t always see clutter around us because like everything else we tend to get used to it. So, in honour of Clutter Awareness Week here is a list of what to look for if you think you have too much clutter.

What are you not using?

As a homeowner, you may have a lot of stuff that you’re not using and a lot of this holds some value to you. I don’t encourage you to get rid of things you cherish or that has value to a loved one, but I do encourage you to donate, sell or trash items that you know are not going to get used again.

How many DVD’s, CD’s or books are in your home that you won’t even look at again? What about the clothing that is worn or just doesn’t fit any longer? If you’re keeping something until you slim down why not buy something new as a way to celebrate that victory? Besides, styles change and it may no longer be something you want to wear when you do get to the size you want.

What is getting in your way?

Do you get so used to things being around that you forget that they no longer work or are worn out? You may walk past or around these items every day without a single thought. “I’ll get around to selling or fixing that some day” are very common excuses I hear almost every day. That “some day” is here, this week.

Organized bedroom

Take advantage of Clutter Awareness Week to have these items sold or repaired now and reduce the clutter in your home. If you know of a senior in this position you could be saving them from a nasty fall by helping them reduce the clutter in their homes.

Is clutter preventing you from enjoying the things you like to do?

Clutter has a huge impact on your everyday life. Perhaps you feel embarrassed to have friends or relatives over for fear of being judged. Perhaps you have become housebound with the cycle of clutter becoming worse. Clutter Awareness Week is a great time to take charge and enjoy the things that clutter has been preventing you from doing.

Set aside some time this week to tackle your clutter. If the thought of de-cluttering frightens you or makes you anxious, start off with something small like a closet or a drawer. You will be surprised at how victorious you will feel and will want to tackle bigger areas soon.

Don’t forget there are so many charities that could use your old items. Consider giving to your local favourite charity or to any of the refugee charities that will appreciate your generosity.  Another option is to turn your old items into cash at a consignment store or perhaps you wish to sell them on-line.

Take some time this week to really take a look around. Take pictures if that will help and really look at what you see. Is your space functional, efficient and inviting? If yes, great! If not, set aside the time required to get things back in order or contact us here for a no obligation chat.

Get Your Taxes Organized Now

Tax time is creeping up on us folks and now is a good time to take a look at the way you file and organize your income tax files. Taxes are something that you should be thinking of throughout the year but unless you are running your own small business I’ll bet tax time is the only time you think of them.

How long do I keep my tax records?

Keep your tax records & supporting documents for six full years.

Taxes

Even if you do not have to attach certain supporting documents to your return, or if you are filing your return electronically, keep them in case your return is selected for review or audit. Revenue Canada may request documents other than official receipts as proof of any deduction or credit you claim, such as cancelled cheques or bank statements.

This six-year period starts at the end of the tax year for which you are filing. So, if you are filing your 2015 taxes shortly you will need to keep files from 2015 back to 2010.

What do I do with older records?

After the six-year mark (2009 files can be safely disposed of after your 2015 taxes have been filed) you can safely destroy older files. Ensure that they are properly disposed of by shredding them! Do not leave anything to chance. If you don’t own a shredder most office supply stores will provide a shredding service for a nominal fee.

Notice of assessment

You will receive a notice of assessment from Revenue Canada once your taxes have been filed and reviewed. It will confirm that your return was assessed and whether you owe taxes, whether a refund is owed to you or if there is a zero balance. If there are no discrepancies between your filing and this notice, then file it away with the taxation year that it applies to. You will need it for your next tax year when you file.

Filing throughout the year

Throughout the year you are going to accumulate receipts for many different items that you may or may not require for tax purposes depending on your individual circumstances.

shoebox-with-receipts

Open a file and label it according to the current tax year. Papers and receipts you need for taxes should be placed in this file. This current year folder will make it a lot easier to keep track of important documents you get throughout the year, like donation receipts, etc. All the papers you need to prepare your taxes will all be in one place.

You can even go one step further, especially if running a small business, and separate your tax receipts into categories like health expenses, business expenses, car expenses, office supplies, etc. to be even better organized for the upcoming ta year.

Tax time can be pretty stressful but if you plan ahead and have an accessible file with everything you need, things will go a lot smoother. Tax time is here, are you ready?

How To Talk To Your Parents About Downsizing And Letting Go

It’s a conversation we never want to have but for a lot of us the time will come when we need to talk to mom and dad about moving out of the family home into something smaller and more manageable or perhaps even into assisted living.

You may have noticed that they just can’t keep up with the family home any longer and for physical or financial requirements they need to move.

These tips and suggestions can take a little bit of the pain out of that sensitive conversation.

Start the conversation early

Don’t wait until the move is imminent. Start the conversation early on to let your parents know that you’re thinking of them and their welfare. Talk to them just to find out how open they are to the option and whether they’ve been thinking about it themselves. If you wait until the crisis has started you are apt to make plans that are less thought out causing undue stress on them and you.

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Parents really don’t want to be a burden on their children so I think you’ll find they may be quite receptive to talking about it early to let you know how they feel about it and to express their specific wishes.

Make sure everyone agrees

It’s important to have all the siblings, and in laws as well, on the same page. Whether mom and dad are going to live with you, move into a smaller home or reside in assisted living it’s important that all family members agree on the plan and agree with the decision made by the parents.

Leave any emotional baggage or past disagreements outside. What’s best for your parents is what’s important here. Sometimes one sibling can feel guilty about placing parents in assisted living or wants them to stay in the family home for personal reasons. If you are not all on the same page it will cause anxiety and chaos for your parents.

Deciding what will go with them

Any move is likely going to result in smaller spaces. If your parents have lived in their current home for a long period of time you can bet they have accumulated a lot of memories and treasures.

Crowded home

Find out what is most important to them and see if it can be accommodated in the new home. If not, there are a lot of options to keep the memories close by such as memory books, shadow boxes and storage containers. Moving is tough enough but holding on to some of the most important memories will ease the stress.

Deciding what to do with the rest

Our parents are probably the last of the generations that hang on to things. Today we don’t hold much value for things like china or formal dining room sets. Our taste in clothes and jewellery is also much different.

Your parents may believe that everything they have still holds value and it does. Just maybe not the value they believe. Find out what charities they support and suggest they donate to that cause. Hold an estate sale or consign the larger items for sale if they want or need the funds. If need be you can always have a professional appraiser come in to have a final say on the value. If there are items being left to certain family members perhaps mom and dad want to give the item to them now so they can see them get the use out of it.

Keep them safe

Let your parents know that the discussions you are having and the assistance you are giving them is out of love and you are looking out for their best interests. You don’t want them to be burdened with a home they cannot take care of any longer nor do you want their new home to become a safety/trip hazard with items they don’t want or need in the new smaller quarters.

It can be a tough, gut wrenching conversation but if you start it early, be supportive and let them know it is out of love the conversation will go a lot easier. If you need help with the process of de-cluttering, downsizing or moving to smaller spaces contact me here and we can chat.

5 Signs That Your Parents Are Ready To Downsize

We all go through the stages of home ownership in our lives. First we rent, then we buy our first home, then we move into a larger home when we have a family and finally we downsize as we grow older.

Do your parents need some help in making this life changing decision? Here are 5 signs that they may be ready to downsize into something more manageable.

Are they having difficulty with the current upkeep?

Your parents want, and need, their independence. But sometimes pride gets in the way in refusing to downsize and acknowledge that they just can’t accomplish what they used to. The family home was just that – a family home. Purchased quite a while ago when there were children in the house. All of the children have moved out and have started their own families and your parents are still in the same house.

As the home gets older things start to need maintenance and repair resulting in expense or your parents reaching their physical limitations. If you see them struggling to maintain the home or property or are keeping it for sentimental reasons, it’s probably a good time to have a gentle discussion centered around moving.

Are they having financial issues?

Once you stop working you become dependant on your own savings and/or government assistance. It’s nice to know that your prescription costs are covered by the government when you reach the age of 65 and doctors visits are also covered. However not everything is 100% covered and let’s face it, as we get older we can normally expect to start dishing out for medical expenses not covered.

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Entertainment costs, vacations and the home expenses start to eat away at savings. Many of the older generation believe in paying off the mortgage as soon as possible and using the value of the home towards their retirement.

Well, perhaps financial challenges are now coming to play and the equity in their home can be used to help them in their later years. They don’t have to be further away just because they sell their home. Many parents are now moving in with their adult children. Finally! Some revenge!

Are they having difficulty finding things?

When you visit your parents and you ask to see a family picture or a memento that you know they have, do they have difficulty in finding it or can’t locate it at all?

I’m not talking about the medical diagnosis of dementia here, just not being able to find something because of all the stuff your parents have in the home. It’s nice to be surrounded by items from the past but not if they are packed away because of the volume of items in the house.

I’ve suggested to many families that they create a Memory Box with the most important photos and remembrances and hang it on a wall for all to see. Just the sight of these items will bring back a lot of memories to cherish. If your parents are keeping a home just because they can’t fit everything they currently have into smaller quarters it is time to talk about downsizing and reorganization.

Do you feel your parents are not safe in their home?

As your parents age they may not be able to get around like they used to and perhaps don’t have the reflexes that they once had. Things they could easily manoeuvre around before or step over may now be a trip and fall hazard.

Elderly tripping cartoon

Remember that old television commercial with the lady who fell? – “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”. If you feel your parents safety is being compromised by having too much stuff in the house, it is time to discuss downsizing.

Are they looking for a little freedom in their lives?

Perhaps your parents secretly want to buy that motor home or want to leave the cold for a couple of months in the winter. They feel guilty about spending that kind of money or feel guilty about being away from the kids or the grandchildren. They’ve probably worked hard most of their lives and they deserve to do these things while they still can. Let them know that they have plenty of time to visit in the warmer months and that by downsizing they will have the funds to enjoy themselves.

Downsizing may not be right for everyone but many of our parents are going to do it. Look for the signs and have the gentle conversation with them. It is of course their decision, but downsizing could have a very positive impact on their lives.

ClutterBGone has assisted many families with this life transitions and would be pleased to assist you as well. Contact us here for more information or to have any questions answered.

The Valuation Of Possessions …

There is a difference between the value of an object and how it actually fits in your life. One of the challenges that I face when working with my clients is their idea of what is valuable.  This usually occurs when we are paring down possessions and a client is hesitant to let something go because of what he or she paid for it and what it was worth in the past.    For instance, I have a client who is holding onto a very old dining room set she and her ex-husband acquired over 25 years ago. Their marriage ended 12 years ago and she has since moved to a much smaller home in which this dining room set is much too large for the dining room itself.  In fact with the set in the room there is actually no room to move around so the room and the set are effectively unusable. In addition, she identified that she dislikes entertaining and having people over for dinner so to have a dining room set does not even fit into this client’s life.

The space could be better used in a way that reflects her lifestyle. Yet she does not wish to let go of this set because she paid over $20,000.00 for it in 1988 and it is still in very good condition.   If you ever find yourself saying “hey, I paid a lot of money for that” you are evaluating the object based on its past value, not the present value.  If the item is of no use to you now and not important to your present life, the fact that you paid a lot for it doesn’t change the fact that it is taking up valuable real estate in your home and actually costing you more in terms of time, energy and space to store, clean and maintain.  Why do this when you get no benefit from it when you could actually sell or donate the item to someone who could benefit from it.

 

What are you holding onto that is no longer a benefit to you?