6 Key Back To School Organizing Tips

Where did the summer go? I know summer doesn’t officially end until late September but for a lot of you summer ends when the kids go back to school so I trust you’ll enjoy the last few weeks you have left!

Take these last few weeks to get your children organized and ready for school with these back to school organizing tips.

Train for bed times now

The young ones have been having a blast all summer long with extended bed times, sleeping in and irregular meal times. Now is the time to start getting them back into the habit of bed times and getting up earlier. You don’t want the chaos of sleeping in on the first day. Slowly start to get them to bed earlier in the coming weeks to prepare them for the first day of school.

Set up a central station

Assign an area in the home where everyone knows where he or she can get more supplies for school.

Homework station

Keep a charger there as well for cell phones, tablets and laptops. No more “Hey mom, where is …” Notes can also be posted there for all to see. Make sure they check this area each morning if you are off to work before they leave for school.

Get the homework area ready now

Set up a homework area in the home and get it stocked with the usual supplies – pens, paper, chargers – that they are going to need to complete their homework. This area shouldn’t be in their bedroom. There are too many distractions that will take away from completing their assignments.

Go thru the clothes now

Perhaps the biggest challenge for any parent at this time of year is going through your child’s clothes to determine what still fits and what needs to go. How much taller has your child grown over the summer?

Kids clothes closet

I used to love going shopping for back to school clothes with my mom. We would come home and go through all my clothes to determine what could be donated or handed down before the new clothes were put away.

Ensure emergency numbers are handy

Kids are getting phones at a much earlier age now and there are arguments for and against but if your child is old enough and responsible enough to have a phone, make sure you have stored the emergency phone numbers in their phone. These should include your home number, cell number and work numbers as well as an alternate family member. Store them in the favourites so one touch of the screen can get them assistance if required.

“Tween” kit

There are times when I’m glad I didn’t have to raise girls. Their needs are much different than boys, especially during the “tween” phase. Help them during this time by preparing a kit containing must have items. Lip balm, deodorant, minimal make up, feminine products and maybe even a small amount of cash are some of the items these girls may need throughout the day. Pack it all in a small bag that they can carry in their backpack or purse.

Going back to school can be a chaotic time in the household. Follow these tips to keep chaos at bay. At ClutterBGone we have helped a lot of families get organized for back to school. Contact us here to see how we can assist you.

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

Tidy-modern-living-room

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.

How Organizing Your Basement Can Save You Time and Money

By guest blogger, Jon Labelle

Did you know that the average person wastes one year of their life looking for misplaced items in their home? While many of us face problems controlling clutter in our living spaces, it’s difficult to find the time and motivation to organize. To further complicate things, if you have a basement, all of your seldom-used or discarded items seem to accumulate there until you run out of room or it’s time to move.

Home management and organizing services such as ClutterBGone indicate that most Canadian families would like to reduce the chaos in their lives by organizing but often lack the space, planning capabilities, time to do the job or the organizational tools to make a change. Success in overcoming your clutter depends on accomplishing two very important things: establishing your organizational goals and changing your habits.

  1. De-clutter and Discard

Organizing-Your-BasementIf you’re like most homeowners, the basement is a convenient place to stash those rarely used or miscellaneous items. As they’re out of sight, it’s easy to forget about them until things begin to pile up or you try to find something you’re sure is “down there somewhere.” The first step in organizing is to sort through and remove any trash or broken items. Once a garbage bag is full, take it out of the basement to your trash receptacle. After a few bags are gone, you’ll have more space to move around and see what’s left. Next, sort through the remaining items looking for anything you can sell or donate to charity. You’ll be amazed at how much you can make by holding a garage sale or selling your unwanted items online. Now, you should have a manageable pile that you can store for easy access later.

  1. Devise a Plan for Use

Now that you’ve got a better idea of what must stay in the basement, you’ll want to come up with a usage plan for your space. Typically, your basement is used for utility, storage and living areas. Each section may need separate sub-sections to accommodate your personal situation.

Utility – Your household equipment falls into this category and includes your furnace, water heater, sump pump, circuit breaker box, laundry tray and possibly washer and dryer. Whether these items are located in one or several spots in your basement, always make sure there is a clear path for easy access in the case of emergency. Rolling carts or shelves can be used for small storage areas and moved out of the way if necessary. Make sure to keep flammable items away from the furnace and hot water heater to keep your family safe.

Storage – This area will hold the majority of items you just sorted through, so you’ll need to further categorize like items, such as tools, holiday decorations, sports equipment, camping or fishing equipment, food/canned goods, paper supplies, seasonal clothing, extra linens, painting supplies, excess furniture, etc. The key here is to keep similar items together, so you’ll stay organized (put items back in their new location after use) and know just where to look months from now.

Living Space – You may already have a finished area in your basement, or you may just be clearing a space for future use. In either case, assigning a specific use for each area will keep it chaos-free. If you’re handy, set up a workshop space to keep tools within easy reach. Just think about how much time and money you’ll save by doing household projects yourself.

If you have younger children, this newfound space can be the perfect location for a playroom. Just imagine all the time you’ll save putting toys away every day. With plenty of room for a large toy bin or shelving, the kids can clean up quickly and easily, freeing you up for more important family time.

  1. Arrange for Accessibility

organized-bookshelfNow that you’ve sorted through the clutter and established a designated area for storage, you’ll need to make sure you have access to all the items you keep there. Keeping similar items together and being able to get at them are key to keeping the space organized. If you have to rummage through boxes or unload a shelf each time you want to use that oversized roasting pan, the area will soon return to disarray.

To keep the place organized, don’t pile containers too high or deep. If it’s too physically demanding to retrieve items every time you head downstairs, you’ll likely avoid the task. Also, make sure you put items you use most frequently in the front or on top.

  1. Use Proper Storage Solutions

Remember that your basement can be damp and at risk for wall cracks or flooding. It’s critical that you choose the best storage solutions to protect your belongings. There are a number of items that don’t store well in damp or humid places, so take care with papers, books, photos, fabric and cardboard boxes.

The waterproofing experts at Royal Work Corp. recommend using a dehumidifier to remove dampness from the air, make sure your sump pump is working properly and consider adding a battery back-up unit for extra protection.

Plastic storage totes are an excellent choice to keep valuables dry and safe from bugs and rodents. Remove cardboard boxes from the area. Cardboard absorbs moisture and can provide an excellent food source for mold and mildew to grow. Even a small flood will compromise your belongings if stored in a cardboard box.

Keep everything a few inches off the floor. Invest in some freestanding or hanging storage shelves. Make sure you can fit two plastic bins side-by-side for maximum capacity. Use smaller bins for flat, lightweight items that can be easily retrieved from a top shelf without risking injury.

Finally, label and inventory everything. If possible, identify the contents of the container on all sides. That way, you’ll always be able to quickly locate what you need.

Organizing your basement makes a lot of sense. You’ll save time searching for buried items, you’ll save money by not buying duplicates, you’ll earn money by selling unused items, and you’ll gain peace of mind by finally taking back control. It’s time to get started today!

Jon Labelle is an expert in the field of home improvement and remodeling, with extensive knowledge and many years of experience. For more tips related to home renovation and remodeling follow Jon on Twitter.
For more tips on finishing, waterproofing and organizing your basement check out Royal Work Corp. Waterproofing.

ADHD & Clutter – A Recipe For Chaos?

Organized-Living-Room

ADHD, also known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a psychiatric disorder causing attention control, which can cause attention deficits. Many adults with ADHD have cluttered homes and work spaces.

Some of you are able to function quite well in these surroundings and surprisingly can find anything you need quite quickly in a state that we would consider to be extremely cluttered. For those that cannot, here’s how to prevent clutter from overwhelming you.

Plan it

Whether you use sticky notes or hang a calendar in your room or use a day timer type of book, these physical reminders can control everyday chores from getting out of control.

Planner - weekly 2

If Thursday is garbage day, write it in the calendar. If you have bills that need to be paid write them in your book as soon as they come into the house.

Break it down

If you have been diagnosed with ADHD you may get overwhelmed with the number of things that need to get done. For most of us we can juggle our daily list of things to do and make changes on the fly but other things can easily distract those of you challenged with ADHD and before you know it you have a clutter everywhere.

The key is to break things down into smaller manageable tasks and stay with it until it is complete. Larger tasks should be broken down into smaller portions that you know you can complete within the expected timeline. If something comes to mind while you are working on a different chore, write it down and come back to it later.

Shopping trips

Shopping can be very tricky unless you’re prepared. Compulsivity is a symptom of ADHD so items are easily forgotten and items that are not required are purchased. This results in unnecessary expenses for the items you didn’t need and a return trip to the store for the items you forgot.

Shopping

Make a list and stick with it, no matter what. If cost is a factor use your calculator on your phone as you shop so you stick to your budget. I would suggest that you stay away from the bulk, membership type stores to reduce the temptation of purchasing more than you actually need.

The office desk

Whether at home or at work ADHD typically leads to a very cluttered desk. A lot of time is wasted in looking for things or moving things from one place to another. Find an organizing system that works for you. Initiate the practice of everything going into your “In” basket and once it’s taken from there you’re committed to finishing whatever it requires to complete it, right down to filing it away. Color coded files work for some and bins work for others. They key is to find the system that works for you.

Take a break and clear your mind

The most important thing is to recognize when you begin to feel overwhelmed. At this point it is OK to step away, process and relax. Don’t forget that your mind can also get cluttered so step away, take a few deep breaths and let it go.

If you live with someone who has ADHD or are challenged with it yourself, you may be living in a state of controlled clutter. The clutter can make your life feel like it is constantly out of control.

You may be able to function quite well with clutter all around you but many others cannot. Perhaps the significant others in your life are feeling overwhelmed with the clutter or you are feeling challenged with it yourself. If you are in the camp of those that can’t function well with the clutter and would like to get it under control, we would love to help. Give me a call or contact me here to learn more about how we can help.

5 Simple Steps To Organize Your Garage For Spring

Garage 2

Ah, spring is almost here! Unless you are an avid winter sportsman, winter can feel almost as long as the other seasons combined. The most popular ritual of spring has to be cleaning off the barbeque and I think the second most popular has to be cleaning out the garage. It’s almost like therapy!

Here is my 5 step simple checklist to help you along in this task.

1) Take a general tour

Start with a general tour of the garage to get an idea of what needs to be done. You don’t want to get started and realize it is a very big job and get discouraged.

Messy garage

Not too bad? Great! Looks like a big job? Enlist the help of your spouse, kids, your neighbor or a professional.

2 ) Give yourself time
Set the time aside. If it looks like just a tidy and upkeep job then set aside an afternoon to get things done. Otherwise plan a whole day to get it done. If you finish earlier, so much the better.

3) Get ready, go!
Get started. Take stock of everything you have and start to sort into three piles – keep, toss and donate. The donate pile is your easiest as most charities will pick up donations or you can drive them to your favorite local charity site and drop them off.

The items designated for tossing must be sorted according to your local trash pick up regulations. Items such as paint, chemicals and fluorescent tubes must be taken to a special disposal site that you can easily find on line. Now we are left with the items you wish to keep. Sort these items into piles – garden equipment, automotive supplies, sporting goods, etc.

4) Determine storage
Determine the type of storage system you require. At the front of my garage I have a resin 5 level storage shelf where I keep my gardening supplies roller blades, automotive cleaning products, etc. I have each shelf labeled so anyone in the house knows where to put things once they have been used. I have even assigned a spot for my husband’s empty bottles…… who wants those old bottles hanging around the house?

Organized garage

All of your shovels, rakes, etc. can be hung on a wall with any one of many systems that are available, or just by using a 2 x 4 strapped securely in place with a few hooks. Just make sure you secure it to studs to prevent them from falling down later.

5) Clean sweep
Get rid of the winter dirt. Now that everything is up and out of the way you can give the floor a good sweeping and cleaning to get rid of the dirt and salt that has fallen from the car over the winter. Hint – unless you want dust kicking up in your face pick up some floor sweeping compound and put it down prior to sweeping. It will help to keep dust from getting in the air and into your home. Some of you may even want to put down an epoxy coat on the floor to protect the concrete and reduce the dust.

Do it again in the fall. Don’t forget to take anything that can freeze out of the garage and into the house in the fall. That is a good time for another cleaning before winter sets in. I know, I mentioned the dreaded W word before it is even over!

I know most men are itching to get back into the garage to clean it up and to get back into their “tinkering”. Follow the steps above to get your garage cleaned and organized for the spring and maybe reclaim some of that space in the basement. If hubby is too busy or is “organizationally challenged” contact us here for assistance.

5 Signs You May Be Chronically Disorganized And What You Can Do About It

We are all a little disorganized in some aspects of our life but for some of you being disorganized affects your day-to-day living. Lets begin with defining what chronic disorganization is (also known as “challenging disorganization”).

Being chronically disorganized is defined as being disorganized for a long period of time during which you have not responded to attempts at self-help. It has a negative impact on the quality of your life and can also affect your relationship with others.

It’s normal to feel a little disorganized when certain life events happen, like a death in the family, when you move or even something as simple as having a house full of visitors over for an evening.

You may recover from these events quite quickly but if you are chronically disorganized these events just add to your current challenges. If you are chronically disorganized it’s important to remember that it is a condition, and not a flaw in your character.

There are many signs that point to being chronically disorganized. Lets look at 5 of them.

1. Unable To Find Things

I frequently have trouble finding things myself, especially when I’m in a rush. Sometimes another family member has put something away in a spot totally different to where I keep it. For me and most people, it only happens once in a while and does not impact my life.

If you are chronically disorganized you’re always looking for something that you need and often you’ve left it to the last minute so panic now sets in and chaos ensues. This can lead to missed appointments, being late in making payments (leading to late fees or a bad mark on the credit rating) and can even have an adverse effect on your health with higher blood pressure and anxiety.

2. Cluttered Living Area

A very visible sign of being chronically disorganized is the condition of your living area. If you have small children in your home I’ll bet you feel that your home is always disorganized with toys and baby accessories seemingly everywhere. Do you have a husband who maybe forgets to pick up after himself? No need to worry, we all go through this.

Cluttered living area

If you are chronically disorganized you live in a cluttered state that affects you to the point where you perhaps cannot find most things and may even have to clear things out of the way just to find a place to sit. In extreme cases this can lead to a safety issue with trip hazards on the floor or the room becoming a fire hazard.

3. Off Site Storage Is Required For Possessions

This happens more than you would think. We all love our possessions or “stuff” as George Carlin used to say, but you may acquire an over attachment to belongings for sentimental or other reasons. It may be that you find items that are too good to pass on, whether somebody is getting rid of something they feel has value or when shopping a sale is too good to pass. Your thinking may be   “why spend more on an item later” when you can get it on sale now. What a deal, right? Before you know it you have more than you can keep track of and you forget where everything is so you buy more, and the cycle continues.

Typically a lot of these items will spoil or become contaminated thus turning into a health hazard. Of course there is the cost of outside storage to keep in mind, a cost that is probably really not needed.

4. Missed Deadlines

Whether at home or at work, if you are chronically disorganized you may frequently miss deadlines. At work this can of course affect your career path and in the worst cases can lead to dismissal.Missed deadline

At home missing deadlines can lead to late payments causing financial penalties. Failure to get your financial information to your bank on time can lead to not taking advantage of a low mortgage rate. Your children could be missing out on something fun at school because you failed to get a document back to school on time. Deadlines are important and missing them affects just more than you.

5. Work Evaluations Focus On Improving Organizational Skills

Has your boss ever “suggested” that you improve your organizational skills? If you are chronically disorganized, it is not likely to be just affecting your home. It’s part of your life such that you may be disorganized at work as well. Are you busy at work and juggling a few projects at the same time? Not being organized will have an impact on your reviews and thus your salary increases. In extreme cases jobs could be lost thereby losing your sole source of income.

These are just 5 signs of a chronically disorganized person. There are many more. Chronic disorganization is a condition that can be changed. It takes time, patience and an organizational system designed specifically for you, to learn what you need, what is cherished, to set caps on categories of items and to learn how to make the system work for you.