How To Get Your Car Organized and Decluttered Now

car-trunkTo many people, their car is a statement. Your car can be an extension of yourself and in fact tells others about you, your character, style, and personality. To others, their car is an investment. In either case, a car is a big-ticket purchase that you want to take care of in order to obtain the best possible sale or trade in value.

We’re taking more with us in the car and so are our passengers. Phones, tablets, books, etc. As a result, you want to keep your car’s contents organized, functional and accessible. Let’s look at some ideas and tools to get your car organized.

Starting the car organizing process

Pick a good weather day and roll out a small tarp or blanket on your lawn or driveway. Begin by removing everything out of your car (don’t forget the trunk, behind the visors and all compartments throughout your vehicle). Place everything out on the tarp or blanket.

Keep an open trash bag on hand as well so you can place any trash you come across immediately in the bag.  Also have on hand an empty bin that you can label “Put back in the house” in which you will place any items that originated from there and should be returned.  This would include coffee mugs, food containers, etc. Once everything is out on the tarp, take a photo. You will likely be amazed at how much “stuff” was living in your vehicle without your knowledge.

Categories are cool

This next stage of organizing your car is like a game of “match” as you will be sorting like items with like items.  For instance, place all tools together, DVD’s in another pile, paper in yet another and continue this process until you have put everything in a category, like items with like items.

If you find any maps I suggest you check the dates for relevancy.  My rule of thumb is that any map over 3 years old has likely changed and may not be worth using on your next road trip unless you are looking to take an unscheduled detour. If you have a GPS system or use your phone as one, a map may no longer be necessary. This would also be a good time to update your GPS system.

Once everything is in a category begin to revisit your piles and start purging. Think about the essential items you need in your vehicle all the time. For instance, if your work requires your car to be your office as well, you may need certain office supplies. If you regularly drive kids to and from school, perhaps you may want to carry a supply of wet wipes or snacks.

Remove items that are obsolete and out dated, broken or damaged. Multiples of items should be addressed and should not be kept unless there is something special or unique about them in terms of size or shape.

Organize and corral

Now it’s time to corral all your piles.  Using separate bins and crates, load your categories of items into the best sized container. Corralling items in your trunk will save you time and frustration scrounging around in there when you are looking for something. An orderly car is less frustrating and more efficient than disorganized chaos. Don’t forget to plan a regular schedule for cleaning out your vehicle to maintain the state of organization.

The “kids” stuff

I recently received a terrific car organizer from Bearoy and boy do I wish I had one of these a few years ago. They have thought of everything. This organizer fits around the front seat of your car without any impediment to the person seated up front.

bearoy-car-organizerThis product will not only keep your kids entertained during drives but will also keep the back of your seats clean, drink temperatures maintained and keep everything organized.

The best thing I liked about this car organizer is the ability to insert a tablet into the compartment that has a clear touch-screen window so the tablet stays in place and the screen stays clean. Pockets are there for hot or cold drinks, snacks and has enough pockets for earphones, pens, and other items. There are two carabiners to keep keys from getting lost.

This very affordable, waterproof, polyester organizer will look great in any car and snaps off and rolls up when not needed. To view more details, simply click here. If you would like to purchase this organizer, go to Buy the Bearoy.  One of the best car organizers I’ve seen in a long time!

If you’re planning to travel over the Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays now is the time to get your car organized and ready for every trip. Even without holiday travel, keep your car organized for day to day use and your daily trips with the kids will be much more enjoyable!

Drive organized!

Emergency Preparedness – Be Organized

 

Emergency-Preparedness-Checklist-1024x682

With the recent devastating fire in Fort McMurray I thought it prudent to write about being organized and prepared for an emergency. You never know when an emergency will strike or where. I think back to the Mississauga train derailment in 1979 when 200,000 people were evacuated or the black out in 2003 that affected 10 million people by cutting power anywhere from several hours to a week and now the Fort McMurray fires. Each time there is an emergency Canadians are quick to open their homes and wallets to those in need but we all have to be ready as time is scarce when tragedy strikes.

The essentials

On the Government of Canada’s website (getprepared.gc.ca) they suggest that you have enough supplies for you and your family to last 3 days. Food should be canned or dried or items that won’t spoil like energy bars and don’t forget a manual can opener. Have enough water (about 2 litres per person per day) to last each of you three days and have it stored in containers that are easy to transport.

Power

Electricity normally goes out during an emergency so have a flashlight and batteries ready at all times.

Hand crank radio

There are a number of lights and radios that work on a crank that you can keep with your kit.

Some things you may not think of

Duct tape is Tim the Tool Man’s friend and it really can do a lot. Toss a roll into your emergency kit for sealing or holding things together. A small tool kit will probably come in handy with just the basics like a screwdriver, pliers, a hammer and a whistle can be used for summoning help.

First aid kit

A basic first aid kit is a must not just for you and your family.

Red Plastic First Aid Kit Box Isolated on White Background.

You never know who you are going to come across who may need assistance. You can find them all over town or the Red Cross (http://www.shop.redcross.ca/) has kits you can purchase from them.

Keep it handy

Once you have your kit together pack it in a duffel bag or similar item that you can carry and make sure everyone knows where it is. Go through they kit every 2 or 3 months to take stock of what you have and replace any items that are no longer any good like food and batteries.

Make sure someone out of your immediate family knows your plans if you need to leave home so they can find you and keep a small amount of cash with you. Do not spend a lot of time rounding up personal things – they can always be replaced – but do take a fully charged phone with you along with medications that you will need. For more detailed information visit the Government of Canada’s website.

Canadians have always been generous in times of need and the Government of Canada has pledged to match all individual donations made to the Red Cross to help those affected by the wild fires. Give generously and be prepared.

Ideas for Clutter-free Gifts

Christmas presents piled underneath a christmas tree.

Getting close to the holiday gift giving season I thought this was a great time to remind everyone that you can express your love and appreciation for friends and family without giving “stuff”.

I remember many years ago we would see these huge piles of gifts at our family gatherings, sometimes spanning several feet out from the tree.

Generosity is great, but it was ridiculous to see the amount of gifts that people were receiving. I was just as guilty as everyone else in falling prey to the commercialism of the season. Plus, I’m sure many of you have received gifts that you don’t really like but felt obligated to keep and store, hidden away in some closet. So why not provide a clutter free gift this season?

One type of clutter free gift is a donation to charity in that person’s name which helps those less fortunate. There are a number of great causes out there but recently I’ve come across plangifts.ca. With this charity you can purchase, in the name of your giftee, anything from 3 baby chicks (for only $15.00!), a goat or a bunch of mango trees which will provide food and sustenance to a struggling family in a third world country, to clean drinking water or mosquito netting to prevent malaria.

What’s great about this is that in many cases the donation dollars are matched and or hugely exceeded so your dollars actually are multiplied extensively. And, your giftee will receive a personalized card telling them about the purchase made in their name. I urge you all this holiday season to consider a gift from your heart and help those less fortunate.

There are many other charitable options as well, all in different price points.

A gift of an experience is another option and can be one of the greatest gifts of all.  The giftee gets to keep the memory of the experience forever in their hearts. The possibilities are endless and can include event tickets, pre-paid lessons, travel experiences, restaurant gift cards and so much more.

It will make you and the recipient all feel wonderful!

Christmas presents piled underneath a christmas tree.

Christmas presents piled underneath a christmas tree.

Enjoy the holidays and create memories for life.

5 DIY Organizing Projects

Once in a while I post a couple of ideas that I’ve come across that will help you get and stay organized. They are simple DIY projects that are easy to create and easy to maintain.

Here are a few of my favourites.

1) Wall storage bins from old crates

Shoe cratesMany of us have old wooden crates hanging around the house from old soda crates or used produce cartons. They make great storage bins for shoes, seasonal wear, like hats and scarves or even storage compartments for homework and sporting goods like skates and helmets.

Simply cut the top off, if required, and paint to match your décor. Once they are dry you can mount to a wall by drilling through the bottom of the crate (make sure you hit a stud) or by attaching to a supporting piece of wood that you have already mounted to the wall. Use a level to ensure that they are perfectly mounted. Personally, it would drive me bananas if it was at all off level, even an 8th of an inch! I’m a tad OCD that way.

2) Organize your jewellery with old china

I saw this on Pinterest recently and realized that I too have a few old pieces of china that have been handed down that I wasn’t taking advantage of. If you have the space, dedicate one drawer to your jewellery and the place one type of jewellery into each cup, saucer or whatever.

Earrings in one cup, rings in another and so on. What a great way to store and organize your jewellery and to make use of that china that you have had packed away.

Jewellery Organization3) Shoe ladders

These are great for those living in tight spaces with a lot of shoes. Simply find a small ladder – you can find these rather inexpensively at yard sales and antique stores – and paint it to match your décor.

Lean it against a wall and use the rungs to hang your shoes. Decorative, chic and easy to access your shoes.

4) Shower Curtain Rings

This one I have done myself. Take a clothes hanger and attach shower curtain rings to it. You know the ones I mean. The ones that the late John Candy sold in Plane, Trains & Automobiles. They can be found at many stores (including the dollar stores) for less than five dollars. Now run one scarf through each ring and you have all of your scarves in one place to hang wherever you need them.

5) Bull Dog Clips

I have a little bit of room between my desk and the wall in my office. Not a lot, but just enough room for my computer cable and cell phone charging cable to slip and fall down when they are unplugged. I have to get down on my knees, get under the desk and feed the cords back up.

Clips for CablesBy using bull dog clips or even hair clips attached to the back edge of the desk you will prevent the cords from falling down that crack again!

So there you have five simple DIY tips – or life hacks as they call them – to help you get and stay organized.

If you would like to learn more or need a little more help in getting organized contact me here and we’ll chat.

5 Best Places To Find Organizing Products

I often get asked where we find some of the products that we use when organizing someone’s home or office. So here is a list of some of the best places to get organizing products for you DIY type people.Charging station

As a preliminary caution however, we always advise our clients not to purchase anything until they first know the exact volume of each type of item to be contained or organized.

Otherwise you may end up very disappointed that what you purchased just doesn’t do the job, no too mention the time you waste going back and forth to stores. Your time is valuable.

 

Canadian Tire

This veteran Canadian icon has really expanded over the past few years and now sells everything from automotive goods to pet foods. Have a walk down the storage aisles and you will see a pretty impressive selection. They have many items that specialty organizing stores carry including shelving, plastic containers and even storage ottomans, benches and bookcases for those on a tight budget. The plus here is that this is somewhere you and your husband can go together. You just may have to go find him in the automotive or sporting goods aisles when you are done.

IKEA

ikea_expedit_nakedI think IKEA is Swedish for “Holy Cow! I could get lost in this maze”. You likely know how IKEA is laid out. They herd you through the living room area, then through the bedroom and kitchen area before arriving in the area where you find all those neat little storage items. Lots of storage boxes, pencil holders, shelving, etc. They have a lot of neat items that are used in Europe, but be a wise shopper. IKEA items are made for the cost conscious and those that are handy in terms of putting products together. You will not get high quality products but they do have purpose and can last a very long time if well taken care of. One disadvantage is that sizes are only in metric when many other stores show both imperial and metric measurements. And don’t forget you will need a bit of patience if you buy something that requires assembly. Don’t be surprised if you end up with extra parts, or something may even be missing which is a frustrating experience.

HomeSense

This is one of our top favorites. Content varies from day to day so it’s hit and miss but sometimes you can find exactly what you need for a great price. This chain has about 100 stores across the country and has some really interesting pieces to organize, decorate or freshen up your. They have everything from canisters to wall hanging organizers to very useful furniture items for storage. We can almost always find a hallway console table here for a client at an extremely competitive price point.

Knope & Vogt Triple Bottom Mount recycling binsWinners

You never know what you are going to find at Winners and that is just the charm of this store. Because inventory is always rolling in and out the selection changes so it is also hit and miss, especially for organizing products, but when you do find something to use in your project you will get it at a great price.

The Container Store

Now shipping to Canada, this store has numerous locations across the US and I truly wish they had a brick and mortar store here. You will find organizing items galore on their website and if you know what you want, and don’t mind paying the freight to get it here and waiting a few days you will find many items that you just can’t find elsewhere. They have done a great job in categorizing their storage solutions on their site and it is very easy to navigate. Like all US large stores maybe one day we will see one here.

So for those of you that want to tackle the organizing project on your own these are the best places to get the items that will help you get the job done.

If your project is too chaotic for you to manage on your own, contact me here to learn more about how we can help you breathe again!

5 Signs That You Might Be A Clutterer

You know those old Jeff Foxworthy jokes that start with “You might be a Redneck if…” …..Well, I am going to borrow from that famous line but add my own twist.

basement bursting

Here are the 5 signs that you might be a “clutterer”.

1) It continually takes you a lot longer than you thought to find things.

How many times have you gone to look for something and you know where it is – at least you thought you did. After quite a bit of time you find it only because you have torn the house apart and wasted a lot of time doing so. Now you are even more disorganized with everything strewn about. Being disorganized is a time waster and I am sure you would rather be doing other things than desperately dashing through the house looking for things.

2) You are embarrassed to have company come over.

I get it. When we have company over we want to make a good impression and show a neat and organized household. Who wants to have company – family or friends – over when we have items all over the counters and boxes of possessions piled up on the floor? Clutter will almost always lead to more dust and dirt in the house too because we cannot clean as well as we should. Being disorganized can cause some people to crawl into a shell and become unsocial.

3) You are stressed just thinking about having to get organized.

Stress is a killer, that is a fact. We all deal with stress differently and stress can have an adverse impact on our health. If you are feeling stress or anxiety over the thought of getting organized don’t let it get the best of you. Start with small projects and do a bit each day. Set some time aside for this and you will be surprised at how soon you will start to see results. Reach out for help either from family or friends or from a professional.

4) You or someone you love has fallen or tripped over something that is always out of place.

This is the last thing we want, but there are some people that just don’t know how to get organized and end up stacking things on the floor causing a trip hazard or having so much in a cupboard that items fall out when the cupboard doors are opened. Most common accidents happen in the home so let’s do what we can to maintain a safe environment for ourselves and our loved ones.

5) You are always late, whether it is for appointments or paying the bills.

Running late because you did not record the appointments where they are easily accessible with a reminder? Are you getting those nasty fees or penalties added on to your bill because you were late with the payment? How about those nasty credit card interest charges due to late payments? Ouch!

Being disorganized can cost you time and money. Set up a system so that you are paying your bills on time and keeping money in your pocket, not your creditors.

So, do any of these signs ring a bell for you? If so, you might be a “clutterer”…..

To learn more about how we can relieve your stress and help you breathe again, you can call me at 905-642-5669.

5 Recycled Items That Will Get You Organized

After watching a recent news show regarding the amount of waste that each of us creates that ends up being in land fills (and a lot of that should be recycled!) I decided to write about some of the everyday items that we toss in the garbage that could be re-purposed and used to help keep you organized.

This post is not intended to give you an excuse to hold onto items you no longer need and keep clutter, but as a means to getting you some organizational products at no cost and help the environment at the same time!

Tin Cans

Empty them and throw them out, right? If you need to get organized on a budget, there are literally dozens of uses for these, from pencil holders to can planters to bathroom containers and more.

For the DIY peeps out there, get creative and wrap some decorative paper around the tin cans for a home office pen and pencil holder. You can also decorate some tin cans by glueing some rope around them and you have a holder for toothpaste, tooth brushes or whatever. I have even seen people using empty tin cans for cutting shapes out of dough for baking biscuits and cookies. Get the kids involved and spend quality time creating items for the home and for gifts.

Luggage and bags

vintage suitcase decor

I recently came across an old suitcase that belonged to my father. You know the kind I am referring to – the old style hard case with the silver locks. I was going to donate it until I saw where someone had repurposed something similar by turning it into a storage container that rested at the foot of a bed. What a great idea and a great place to store additional blankets or pillows. You could even mount a small one on the wall for decoration or as a guest room vanity.

Ladders and window panes

I have talked about this before but old wooden ladders just don’t get used anymore and a lot of you have them kicking around the house or garage. They make a great storage and organizational system for books and collectibles in the home or even for flowers in the garden.

I myself have taken old wooden window frames and hung them outside around the perimeter of my pergola. Our vines have grown through them and they look great. You could also mount them to a fence for another decorative look and even use them to hang and organize your garden tools.

ladder bookcase

Old chairs

I have an old chair in my dining room that I have turned into a corner unit to hold a few decorative items for display. Depending on your decor this could work well for you too. I have seen some people shorten the legs of an old decorative chair and used them as night tables too!

Glass bottles

How many bottles do you place into the recycled bin each week? Have you ever thought of reusing them as candle holders or for potted plants? The handyman in us can use our favourite empty bottle of wine and cut the top off to make a candle holder after sanding the edges. Spray painted mason jars make great planters or holders to organize almost anything.

Before tossing items into the recycling bin or trash take a moment to think about reducing and reusing before you recycle. Some of these tips will help keep you organized and can be fun to create useful items for gifts for family and friends.  Remember to be realistic too…….no sense in keeping items around for that project you may get to in the next 6 months……that just cause clutter.  if you have the time to manage a DIY project now, go for it.  But if not, no worries as you will always be able to find any of these items easily and little or no cost.

You don’t always need money to get organized……just a little creativity and some discards around the house.

5 Important Tips to Organize Your Fridge

Organized-Refrigerator

Refrigerators have become quite the techy device these days. They have everything from clocks to ice and water dispensers to even televisions built in. You can have top freezers, bottom freezers and even hidden doors inside, but when it comes down to it your refrigerator is there for storing and keeping food fresh. Here are five tips for keeping your fridge organized.

Don’t overdo the bulk buying

1) Buying in bulk and freezing for later use is a great way to save money but keep in mind that all food has a best before date and freezer burn can set in so don’t overdo it when buying in bulk. Items stored in the freezer are best stored in clear plastic freezer bags or plastic containers. Glass is not the best container for freezing foods as it cannot mould to the item like freezer bags can (removing any air from the bag). In some cases the glass can be more susceptible to breaking when cold.

Prevent cross contamination

2) Crispers are normally used for fruits and vegetables – one for each. You should also use one drawer for raw meat to ensure it is totally separate from other foods and that no contamination can take place. In the event anything drips from any raw meat it will be contained to the drawer to prevent cross-contamination. Don’t forget to wash the drawer used for raw meat frequently.

Deodorize?

3) Use a deodorizer in your fridge. You have seen all of those commercials touting the use for baking soda. Just put a box in your fridge and let it soak up the smells. I have a better idea. Keep the baking soda for baking and clean your fridge out when it starts to smell. An odour coming from your fridge is an indication that something is going bad. Is it not better to address it right away then to have something get worse creating a problem that will be tougher to clean later? Better yet why take the chance of something contaminating another item in your fridge and causing your family to fall ill.

Keep circulation flowing

4) Don’t overload the fridge. Air needs to circulate inside the fridge to keep items at their freshest. I know this can be a challenge around the holidays or parties but try not to jam the fridge. You have to be able to easily access whatever you need.

Dates

5) Don’t forget those best before dates. Go through your fridge at least twice a month and toss anything that looks or smells like it should be tossed. The best before date is really a suggested date but when that date comes up keep a close eye on those items or simply toss them to be safe. When you put leftovers in the fridge be sure to put the date on the container so you know how long an item has been in there and avoid those science projects.

Tip : Did you know that apples emit a certain gas that can cause certain vegetables to ripen early? Keep fruits and vegetables separate for freshness.

If your kitchen is causing your stress, call me now for your free telephone consultation an we’ll  transform your life.

3 Clever Ideas To Store, Protect & Organize Your Memories

As we downsize or inherit or just live in smaller quarters, most people are challenged with how to organize and store their memories and treasures.

Here are some clever and creative ways to keep those memories alive without taking up all your precious real estate and creating clutter.

Memory Jar

I just recently created a “memory jar” for a client whose spouse had passed away. We took items of particular meaning and arranged them in a jar that is displayed on a shelf in the living room. It is a very special memento of a very special and beloved person that can be seen every single day.

Memory Jar

Why keep mementos of special people or events in your life hidden away in a box or bin in the basement rarely if ever to be seen?

Take this idea and apply it to just about anything – people, vacations, events. For instance, my husband likes to bring sand and a couple of sea shells back from vacations that we have taken. We put the sand in the jar, mark the shells using a Sharpie with the names of the cities we visited and we have one jar with all his memories.

Photo mania

Photos are always an issue when we’re de cluttering and organizing a home. I can’t stress enough the need to toss or give away all those old pictures that either you don’t look great in or you have forgotten who is in the picture. And what about all those blurry photos? Why are you keeping those? The rest can be stored either in a photo box (rather than a bunch of binders) or even yet kept on a CD, memory stick or even in the cloud for easy retrieval. Of course print and display those pictures that are really special to you.

Treasures

Do you have your wedding dress tucked away somewhere or an old childhood blanket? What about dad’s old favourite sweater? I will bet these items rarely, if ever, are looked at. How about creating a memory blanket with some of these souvenirs that can be used as a throw or a decorative piece that you can actually see and be reminded of those items or occasions.

Don’t worry if you can’t sew, there are plenty of seamstresses or shops out there that could do this for you at a very reasonable rate.

There are so many other creative ways of storing your precious memories, from scrap books to journals to even creating your own website. My dad passed away not too long ago and I am so disappointed that we did not think to get him to write down or dictate to us some of his stories and memories of his life to pass on. Get creative and start some of these projects to reduce your clutter and to share and preserve your precious memories.

Don’t leave them in the bottom of a cardboard box in your basement or garage to disintegrate, get destroyed and lost forever!

5 Steps To Organize Your Garage For Spring

Finally! Spring is here! It has been a long time coming but I hope in your part of the country spring is starting to show signs of arrival. My husband was just out in our garage sweeping it out and my thoughts turned to all of you that are going to turn your garage from winter storage to spring and summer use.

Garage After Organizing

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

Take a general tour

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

Give yourself time

2) 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.

Get ready, go!

3) 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 favourite local charity site and drop them off. The items designated as toss 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.

Determine storage

4) 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 labelled 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? 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.

Clean sweep

5) 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. 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 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 you’ll be back in there for fun in no time!