Did You Resolve To Get Organized This Year?

How is your New Years resolution to get organized this year going?

Like most resolutions, we make, probably not well. Getting organized is one of the most popular resolutions that people make each year. I am not one for setting new years’ resolutions. In fact, my resolution this year was to not make any resolutions!

I believe we set ourselves up for failure when we put expectations upon ourselves when we’re not ready. It’s like quitting smoking or going to the gym. You’re just not going to be successful unless you are mentally prepared. It’s no wonder that less than 10% of those that make new years resolutions keep them.

Until that time comes here are a few things you can do to start the year off right.

One in, one out rule.

This is the perfect time to implement this rule with all the new items you purchased or received over the holidays. Did you receive a new item of clothing that you kept? Great! Did you donate, give away or toss a piece of clothing to make room for it? Follow the simple one in and one out rule to reduce the clutter that accumulates and keep clutter at bay.

Do you really love it?

Over the last few years this has become a mantra of mine. Unless I really love something I won’t buy it. This doesn’t just apply to clothing but to all of my household purchases. Why purchase something that you really don’t just love?

Go paperless.

Paper can be the biggest cause of clutter in a home and we work with a lot of clients reducing their paper clutter and setting up a system to maintain a streamlined and clutter free system.

Most of your bills can be automatically paid through your bank now with receipts and even advance reminders coming to your inbox. And you don’t have to worry about losing a bill or being charged for a late fee.

Be charitable this year.

Charities are always looking for donations to assist those that are less fortunate and can use what you no longer require. Locate your favourite charity in town and feel good about helping others.

Hire a professional!

Just like hiring a gardener or a handyman, a professional organizer is trained in all facets of organizing and downsizing and follows the rules and a code of ethics set out by our association. We have the skills and the contacts to help you downsize, organize, move and much more.

When you’re ready, you’ll know it. Until that time comes, try one or two of these tips to start the process. As always, we are here to help. Just contact us here.

Get Organized Month

ClutterBGone is a proud member of the POC (Professional Organizers in Canada) and the National Association of Professional Organizers in the U.S. who have declared January “Get Organized Month”. Many of us here in Canada are also promoting this month long event in order to promote the benefits of living and working in an organized environment.

How organized are you?

Did you know that the average person spends just under one hour looking for things? That’s a lot of time every day that you will never get back.

Organized people know where things are and spend just a fraction of that time looking for items.

This may shock you.

Almost 80% of what we own we never use. We NEVER use!! Take a look through all of your closets, drawers and cupboards with this in mind and see if that number compares to yours. If not, I’ll bet it is very close. Now think about the space you can save and the money you have spent on these items. When purchasing something ask yourself “do I love it?”. If not, take a second to think about it.

Do you pay bills late?

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.

The clutter impact

Clutter has a significant impact on the stress in your life. It distracts you from what you need to focus on. It makes it almost impossible for you to relax. It creates feelings of guilt and embarrassment restricting you from being social. It can just plain be a downer. Get organized and see your stress levels drop.

This statistic comes up every year. Almost 90% of us are planning on organizing a part of our life this year. The majority of you are doing so because you’re tired of clutter and its effect in your life. I’m not one for making New Year resolutions but this is one I can get on board with. A new year and a new clutter free environment will improve your productivity, give you back some much needed time, save you money and reduce your stress. Who wouldn’t want that? Let’s start the new year by getting organized. Let me know how you make out and, as always, we are here to help.

Want To Get Out From Under Your Clutter Once & For All? Follow These 7 Tips

contemporary / very well decorated / show home living room

How do you do it? What is the secret? Why does clutter continually accumulate in my home? These are all questions I get asked continually when I meet with prospective clients. The answer is quite simple and when I work with clients we work out a system that enables them to keep clutter at bay. But there are tips or rules, that you need to follow.

Know why you want to de-clutter

Really think about this. We all know the benefits of de-cluttering whether it’s for safety reasons, embarrassment when having guests over, peace of mind, etc. Whatever the reason, know what your motivation is and think about that each time you begin the process. It will give you the drive to continue.

Do you really love it?

We all purchase on impulse and sometimes regret the purchase afterwards or worse, don’t even use the item we purchased. When I shop, other than for food, I look at the item and determine if I really love it or really need it. If the answer is no, then I don’t buy it. Regardless of whether the item is on sale or not this rule has rarely failed me.

Create a sorting system

Create a system that can be used each time you organize. As you organize you will want to place items in one of three piles – keep, give away (donate, sell) and toss.

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Your system can be something as simple as three signs or 3 baskets or large boxes. Whatever system you use, keep it and use it each time.

Keep flat surfaces clear at all times

It’s so easy to lay something down on a table or a counter with all the good intentions in the world to look after it later. Flat surfaces are like a magnet for clutter. Make this a rule in your home and enforce it. Soon everybody in the family will be on side with it.

Involve others

Like so many other issues in our lives there is not much we can do without the help or support of others. Family members all need to be on side in order for you to stay clutter free and educating them on the benefits will help you with this. Friends too can help by either digging in or giving gentle reminders when things need to be “tuned” up.

Continually donate

As fashion changes or clothing items become unusable (hey! We all change sizes now and again) I like to give to a local charity that I know passes these items on to others that can use them.

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I keep a bag in my bedroom closet and everyone knows that items to be donated goes into this bag and about once a month the contents get delivered to the charity.

Don’t click those ads on line!!

Shopping habits have changed with many of us doing a lot of shopping on line. Whether it is an on line retailer or a social media site, almost all of these sites track your “clicking” habits and tailor ads specifically to you. The less you click the less you will be enticed to purchase something you don’t need. Delete your search history and cookies periodically to help.

Follow these tips and I can guarantee that you will live a clutter free life giving you more time to enjoy the things you love.

Be Ruthless – Pare Down And DeClutter – Get Organized

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Clutter just doesn’t appear. It slowly accumulates and takes over your drawers, closets and surfaces. It can make you feel defeated and just the thought of having to tackle it can be overwhelming.

Here are several tips to help you be ruthless with your approach to getting out from under the clutter.

Is what you’re holding on to adding value to your life?

Holding on to items simply for the sake of holding on to them is a common cause for clutter. We can’t bear to part with things but also can’t justify keeping them. You spent good money on an item so you feel you have to keep it.  Is keeping it going to get that money back?

Let someone else in the family enjoy the item or sell the item if it’s of some real value. Then use the funds to indulge in something you can really use.

Items you know you are never going to use again

Another reason people hold on to items is the thought that they can use them again. Do you have clothes that you love but can’t fit into? Have styles changed? Do you have items that you intend to fix some day? Some day is today.
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Think real hard about those clothes and if you really can’t see yourself getting into them in a few months let them go. Besides, if you do change sizes you are going to want to celebrate with new clothes. And those broken items are not going to fix themselves. Out they go.

Here’s a decluttering technique you can use to pare down: Ask yourself this question. “If I saw this item in the store today, would I buy it?” If your answer is “no”, then out it goes.

Keepsakes

Do you have memories of loved ones packed away in boxes somewhere? When is the last time you looked at them? Are you really honouring those memories in a box sitting in the dark somewhere?

Try making a memory box out of some of the items so they can be displayed and give you memories each time you see it. See who else in the family would like to have some of the other items. You’d be surprised at just how grateful other family members may be to receive them.

Keep up with technology

Photos in the cloud, digital music, e-readers. All of these things have changed our lives. The times they are a changing as Bob Dylan once sang. Are you holding onto your CD’s but listen to music on your phone or other digital items? When was the last time you brought out those old photo albums? How about receiving and paying some of your bills electronically?

e-reader

I recently switched to a digital reader thereby greatly reducing the amount of books that gather dust in the house. There are a lot of ways to reduce clutter with all of the new technology that is out there.

Don’t let clutter get the better of you. It’s easy for it to do just that. Be ruthless and reduce the clutter in your life. You’ll thank yourself and feel that you can breathe again.

Do You Have Too Much Paper Clutter?

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In this digital age it‘s still surprising to see just how much paper is generated. Bills, newspapers, documents and of course those endless flyers and marketing cards.

With the holidays just around the corner you can bet there will be an increased amount of paper being deposited on your doorstep, mailbox and brought into your home by others.

So how do you deal with all this paper clutter?

Junk mail

Our mail is delivered to one of those super boxes. Every time I pick up the mail there is more junk mail, by far, than there is actual mail. I think real estate agent postcards are on the rise in most areas.

As soon as you get home separate your mail into a pile you need to look at and a pile that goes straight to the recycle bin.

Coupons and flyers

There is nothing wrong with saving some of those coupons and flyers that you receive as long as they are used as a reminder for you and you actually intend and have a plan to make contact with those that own the flyers. Many have expiry dates so check them often and toss the expired ones into the recycle bin.

Receipts

I know many people keep their receipts, and for good reason. But I see a lot of clients who keep almost all of their receipts of every possible type for whatever reason.

coupon-electronic

If you do keep your receipts make sure they are kept for tax reasons only. Otherwise discard them after you have compared them to your bank statement or credit card statement. Shredding them is best. And don’t forget, you can scan your receipts so you have an electronic record of the really important ones (for warranty purposes or otherwise). Less receipt clutter = less mind clutter.

Family systems

With many adult children still living at home it is a good idea to have one central filing system and assign a drawer to each household member. I know from experience that adult children seem to keep their paperwork in one place – all over their room!

Filing systems

Decide on a filing system that works for you. Most of you will file strictly alphabetically according to name. Sometimes we like to use subsections like “Banking”, “Utilities” , “Leisure”, “Investments” and then file alphabetically within these groups.

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That way all similar types of expenses are together. Still others will develop a colour-coded system. Find what works best for you.

Paper was supposed to have been reduced a great deal since the advent of computers but it seems to be on the rise. Don’t get caught drowning in paper clutter. We have assisted a lot of clients with their paper jungles and we can do the same for you.

Paper Organizing In The Office – 6 Tips to Gain Control

Man buried in paperwork and bills. All you see of him are his hands waving a surrender flag. White background with clipping path.

Way back when as computers were first introduced we were told that these marvellous machines were going to save a lot of trees with the paper that was about to be saved. That hasn’t happened yet, has it?

We are creatures that like to be able to look and feel what we have created so we continue to print and file a lot of paper, probably more now than ever. If you find yourself under a mountain of paper here are a few organizing tips to help you manage the paper tiger.

Does it really need to be printed?

Whether you purchase the original ink cartridges or the knock offs or even take your cartridges in for refilling, the cost of ink for printers is crazy! For this reason, alone think before you print. If the document is not something you need to access on a regular basis just file it electronically where it will always be accessible. If it is something really important or you feel anxious about a computer crash then back it up to an external drive and/or to a cloud service. Don’t know anything about a cloud service? Just ask me.

Scan it

Bills and correspondence that you receive can be scanned and saved electronically thereby reducing the amount of paper that needs to fill your filing cabinets. Utility bills and letters can be scanned this way and will always be there when required.

scanner

Bank statements too can be saved on your banks’ website or downloaded to your computer. In many cases, you don’t even need to scan these documents anymore as more and more banks and utility companies are keeping your statements available online for many years.

Shred it

Invest in a good cross-cut shredder to destroy any personal information that may get in the wrong hands. When discarding paper, have a recycle box and a shredding box together. Shred your discarded documents at least weekly to avoid a mound of papers later. You can even get your kids involved!

Get FAT!

Be diligent when papers arrive on your desk. File it, Act on it or Toss it right away. A lot of people set paper aside and have all the good intentions of getting back to it to review it or file it away and end up with a mountain of paper on their desk or in their in-tray.

papers-on-desk

You end up duplicating the time you handle the paper so take care of it once and save this time for things that are really important.

Have supplies ready

In order to organize your paper and reduce the clutter, you need the supplies. Make sure you have file folders, a recycling and shredding bin, stapler and highlighters available. Without the proper tools, you will end up putting paper aside creating a mountain you may never get out from under.

Set aside the time for maintenance

Set aside a half hour each week to go through your inbox and to review all the newspapers, magazines or articles that have “appeared” on your desk. Recycle past issues of magazines and yesterday’s newspapers and file or scan the clippings that you want to save for future reference.

I don’t believe we will ever be truly paper-free and I see so many people wasting productive hours handling paper over and over again. With a little planning, you can get ‘paper organized’. If you feel that you are drowning in paper, contact me here for a chat on how we can help 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.

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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.

Office Organizing – Working From Home

Office-Princeton

With many of you working from home these days you need a home office to work from and that is free of clutter. It takes discipline to work from home and distractions need to be kept to a minimum in order to get the most productivity out of your busy day. Your home office should be comfortable and efficient allowing you to concentrate on your work.

Keep only the important things on your desk

The key to maintaining a clean desk is to keep only what you are going to need for that day or what you use every day on your desk. The rest should be put away or filed away. Pen and pencil holders can look very attractive but they take up space. After all, how many of each do you actually use in a day? The same with photos. You’re working from home. Trust me, you won’t forget what your kids look like!

Day planner

In my opinion, the day planner is the best investment you can make. How else can you keep track of your meetings and things to do?

Day planner

I still use a manual planner that I write in so I can see each week at a glance. I get a sense of accomplishment when I am able to cross an item off knowing it’s done. Regardless of whether you use your phone, tablet or a manual planner be vigilant in recording what needs to be done in a day and cross it off when it is complete.

No interruptions please

You need some quiet time to get things done and often it’s a struggle to find that time when you work at home. Don’t be afraid to close the door for an hour or so a day and let everyone at home know that this is a time when you are not to be interrupted. Some projects or tasks require concentration.

Focus on the task at hand

We all think we can work on two things at the same time but it’s now a proven fact that our attention declines when we try to do just that. Pick one issue to work on at a time and give that your all. If something else comes along that takes priority then set that first item aside and concentrate on the new priority until it is completed.

Choose a filing system that works for you

Don’t restrict yourself to the standard alphabetized filing system if that doesn’t work for you. I file according to “categories” like Utilities, Insurance, etc.

Filing

Then my utility bills and insurance documents get filed within those categories, such as Insurance- Auto, Insurance-Home, Insurance-Life etc. I find it easier to retrieve and file this way. Research the different systems that are out there and use what works best for you.

In and out trays

Put everything that comes in during the day into the in tray and assign a time of day to go through it. Doing this once a day rather than each time something comes in will save you a lot of time through your day. Likewise, with the out tray. Put all of your filing and outbound mail in there and attend to it once a day.

Shred it!

Invest in a good shredder. You generate a lot of paper in a home office and some of that paper contains information that, in the wrong hands, can be devastating to you. Shred anything with sensitive information. The shredders that make confetti out of your documents (crosscut) are the best.

Working from home shouldn’t be any different than working from the workplace. Be organized and you will be more productive. CutterBGone has helped organize many offices, both at home and in the workplace. Contact us here to see how we can assist you.

Fight Procrastination And Stay On Top Of Clutter

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.