The Hall Entrance – A Case Study

organized hallway

First impressions are important, and your front door area is what people first see when they enter your space. I recently had the pleasure of organizing the main entranceway of a client’s home. My very first organizing job was a hall entry so I kind of have a soft spot for these spaces.

Renee is a married mother of three, with very active kids. Aside from her role as a mother and wife Renee is also an entrepreneur of a growing business run out of her GTA home, so things can get a little out of control when you’re being pulled in all directions. That’s when she called in ClutterBGone.

ZNews (a division of Zoomer Media) came along to film it all.

Sort

The first thing we did was sort all of the items that were in this area. Like items with like items. It’s an open area without a traditional hall closet so it can quickly become visually disorganized. Coats, boots, scarves and hats were all gathered and gone through with the client. Being spring we can take the fall and winter wear and set them aside for storage until next year.

Declutter

Next up, time to declutter! A family of five is going to have a lot of shoes, boots and coats. organized hallwaySome no longer fit or just aren’t worn. Others will be handed down to the younger kids. Items that are no longer required are going to be donated so others can use them. ClutterBGone is big on making sure that someone else can benefit or use things that no longer have a home in our client’s space. We like to promote an environmental friendly way to reduce, reuse and recycle. Our clutter does not belong in the ground, so we like to ensure something positive is achieved through our process. Keep in mind that the client is always in control of the decision-making process and determining where each item is destined to go. We’ll just help to give you a “nudge” now and again where needed and always keeping you on pace to get it all done in a timely manner.

Organize

Finally, the moment we’re all waiting for, it’s time to re-organize and finesse the space based on what is left. This is where we like to get creative. We put everything away in a neat and organized fashion. We also want to ensure everything is accessible to the client but also the little ones. Items are then containerized and labelled to ensure we leave you with a system to stay organized.

Before you knew it, we left with a very happy client who is now eager to have people come through the front door. A few items were donated so others can use what we didn’t need on this site. Renee and her family were very happy with the end result. As mentioned earlier, I have a soft spot for hall entryways, so I was really pleased to take this on. Thanks to ZNews for coming out. You can check out their short video of the job here.

Do you have an entrance or space that needs some organizing? Contact ClutterBGone here. We would be honoured to help organize your entry way too.

Get Organized For The End Of The School Year

end of school organizing

Whether its public or high school, the end of the school year is swiftly approaching. There will be lots of stuff coming home with the kids as the school year ends. Like everything else in your home, these items need to be sorted, organized and purged.

Backpacks

The backpacks will be retired for the summer but before they are check them out for wear and tear. end of school year organizingThey get a lot of use through the year so it may be time to replace them at the beginning of the next school year. Maybe your babies have “grown up” and want a more mature looking backpack next year. In that case maybe the current one can be handed down or donated for continued use. Check the backpacks for any lunch leftovers too. You don’t want to be tracking down a terrible smell later in the summer!

All that paper

The end of the school year may bring a lot of paper into the home. Notebooks, art projects, test papers and a lot of paper and documents that were accumulated and kept in the desk through the year will be coming home. We’re all proud of our children but we can’t keep everything they create. Go through it all, preferably with your child, and sort into what you will keep and what you will discard. I like to keep a memory box for each child and place the keepers in there. Others will create a sort of scrapbook and place them in that. Either way you and your child will have easy access to everything you found important enough to keep.

Keepsakes

Kids will collect many keepsakes through the school year. end of school organizingRibbons for participating, trophies for doing well, special drawings, school yearbooks, heck maybe even a few notes from a secret admirer? What will these mean to you and your child in a year or five or ten? Decide what goes in the memory box and what goes.

Old school supplies

A lot of the notebooks, pens, pencil crayons and other supplies can be kept for next year. Go through them for wear and discard what is not needed or usable any longer.

Go through all of the school items as soon as they come in at the end of the school year. This will reduce the clutter in the home and teach your kids responsibility and organization. Now let’s get ready for summer!!!

Storing Your Hockey Gear

storing hockey gear

With the pro hockey season now winding down it’s time to get that hockey gear stored until next season. Our friends at Pro Stock Hockey have offered some tips on how to correctly store your gear so it’s fresh and in great shape the next time you play.

Pick a spot

Hockey families will have a lot of equipment to store especially if there’s more than one child playing and possibly Mom and Dad as well. Pick a spot where everything can be stored together and where it can be kept dry. Design a system whether it’s a shelf or hanging on a wall and ensure everyone uses it.

Sticks

Sticks need to be secured to make sure they aren’t falling onto a car or worse, onto a small child. storing hockey gearWe have seen many different ways to keep sticks secure. We can recommend something to you that will work in your space.

 

 

 

Extra gear

You know how fast kids grow and that means they grow out of equipment. Once it can’t be used, sort it and get it out of the house. There are numerous charities that would love to take your used gear. Also, you can sell it at a second-hand sports store or sell it yourself online.

Sweaters and pants

Being a hockey family I’m sure you are familiar with that hockey “scent”. That is usually caused by sweaters and, socks and pants being left in the bag. Hang these up when being stored to eliminate that nasty smell.

The extras

Try to use a bag that has extra pockets to store the miscellaneous items like tape and pucks.hockey gear It will make them easier to find when needed. And don’t forget to put skate guards on your skate blades to protect everything else. Hockey equipment is costly so it needs to be protected.

 

ClutterBGone has helped many clients get their hockey gear (and other sports equipment) organized and stored. Reach out to us here to see how we can help you.

Thanks to our friends at Pro Stock Hockey. The link to there article is here.

Stay Organized Through The Holidays

Organized holidays

 

With the end of the year upon us it is easy to let things get into a disorganized state. The holidays are hectic with family and friends coming and going, parties to attend and the many other things that capture our attention at this time of the year. Or maybe you are more like me and like to just put your feet up and relax during this time. It is so easy to find yourself a little more disorganized at this time of the year so here are a few things that will take just minutes but will save you a lot of time later.

New gifts of clothing

We all get new pieces of clothing at Christmas (whether they come from Santa or from yourself) but don’t put them away until you have discarded something for every new piece coming in. Remember my one in, one out rule? Following this simple rule will ensure you don’t have a disorganized drawer or closet later in the new year.

New toys for the kids

Same rule applies to the kids toys. If you didn’t have time to go through their toys ahead of Christmas, then do so before putting the new toys away. Discard the damaged, broken toys and set aside the toys they no longer play with or are too old for. Donation sites would love to have these in the new year as their shelves will be bare now too.

Be charitable after Christmas as well as before

Charities often look for donations after Christmas when their shelves have been depleted just like the retail stores. They would love to have your clothing, your kids toys and the food bank will need anything you didn’t use over the holidays – unopened of course and non perishable. Be charitable and stay organized.

All of us at ClutterBGone hope you had a great Christmas and wish you a Happy New Year! If you need help getting organized in the new year or if you just require a little tune up you can reach us here.

How To Stay Organized Over The Holidays

Organize during the holidays

Well, here we are just over a month before the holiday season. I know! Where did the time go? With shopping, parties, entertaining, wrapping and everything else you need to do (besides your regular work and home life) this time of year makes it difficult even impossible at times, to stay organized through the holidays period. Here are a few tips to help keep you organized and hopefully a little calmer during the holidays.

Holiday Shopping

I know a lot of you put off the holiday shopping until the last minute but try to set some time aside to get it done earlier. With all the stress that the holidays already put on you why add to it with last minute shopping? Put it in your calendar and treat it like an appointment – no changes.

Arrange a babysitter if need be or if you’re able to book an afternoon off work, even better. The shopping malls get crazy with each passing day, as you know. Last minute shopping is the perfect recipe for stress. Leaving shopping to the last minute almost guarantees that you are buying something that may end up as clutter in somebody’s home.

Many malls are now offering valet parking service for a small fee. The money goes to charity and what better way to start a nerve racking adventure than being able to pull up to the front of the mall and have your car parking looked after.

Gift Wrapping

If you haven’t already, gather all of your wrapping supplies and keep them in one place. Organize during the holidaysMake a list of what you are short of and get out to buy what you need before the selection is minimal in the stores. I created a wrapping station several years ago with all of the wrapping essentials for all occasions stored there. Everyone knows where it is and it saves time running around looking for the paper, tape, bows and everything else.

Planning The Feast

Holidays to me are all about the meal with family and friends. Sure, the gifts can be nice but there is nothing like the laughs and conversations you have around the dinner table. Make a list now of everything that you will need for dinner. Order the turkey, the ham or whatever you cook now to celebrate to ensure you have the size you need.

If wine is on your list you can expect crowds at the stores so get out there early while your favorite is still in stock and avoid the long line-ups. Don’t forget the extras like the cranberry sauce and rolls. Oh, I’m getting hungry already!

Make Room For New Gifts

Now is the time to go through the toys and your clothes and pare down what is no longer usable, appropriate of just doesn’t fit any longer.

You know family is going to spoil the kids with a lot of gifts so make room now and reduce the stress of trying to make everything fit into the same space later. Have the kids involved. It will build their excitement leading up to the big day.

The Art Of Gift Giving

I’m sure you have already given plenty of thought to what you’re going to purchase for your loved ones. Many of us anguish and plead for hints or ideas trying to give that special gift.

My children are all a bit older now so one year we purchased charity items for people in need in third world countries on behalf of each child as part of their gifts that year. School supplies for a school in need, goats for a family that would produce milk, things of that nature. They were touched by it and it got them to thinking of what the holidays are all about.

Many gifts over the holidays are returned or even worse, not used at all and end up adding to the clutter that people already have. When thinking of charities there are a few websites that track how much of your dollars actually make it where the funds are really needed. When in doubt gift cards are always appreciated and with the new consumer laws most will not have an expiry date.

The holidays can be a very stressful time for most of us but with a little bit of planning and home organization we can reduce the stress and stay organized during this time.

To learn more about how us professional home organizers in Toronto can get you ready for the holiday season there is still time. Contact us here to see how we can help. We even offer home holiday decorating services!

Are You Organized Enough For Santa?

organized for Santa

The Holiday season is coming soon! Are you ready for the mountain of new toys about to arrive in your kid’s rooms?

Now is a great time to take stock of your child’s toys to make room for the new toys that will be coming into your home and make the holidays less stressful than they already are.

Whether they have been naughty or nice, kids receive a lot of toys during the holiday season. Many toys are abandoned right after the holidays and left at the bottom of a toy box or closet as your child quickly outgrow certain toys or is so overwhelmed with the volume that they simply get frustrated.

Or it could be that the item just didn’t hold their interest. All kids have their go-to toys and many have toys that are no longer required. Here is how to get your child’s rooms organized for the toy windfall.

Broken toys

These are the easiest to deal with. We all have them. organized for SantaToys that are broken but were never dealt with at the time and now reside at the bottom of the toy box (which, by the way, is the worst way to organize and store toys). Out they go! Even those toys with critical missing parts that you think just may turn up………it’s time to discard those as well to make room for the new stuff.

Out with the old

With toddlers and younger children it’s easy to go through the toys and make the decisions yourself. You may want to separate the toys into categories and then separate those into toys you will toss, toys you will donate and toys you will store for later (visiting children, more children, special treats for sick days, etc.). Now is a great time to donate to your favourite thrift store so there are toys available to those in need.

Get the kids involved

Older kids like to be involved and will want a say in what decisions are made with their “stuff”. It’s only fair and sets a good example of respect. Have them start with choosing the toys they no longer like or play with. It often helps to separate the toys into categories and then have them pick their top 5 from each category. Explain to them that some of their toys are no longer appropriate as they have grown, and space is needed to accommodate the new toys that are sure to come their way.organized for Santa

Your children can also help to take the donations to the donation center to see what happens to them and how they have helped others. Donation centers love to receive toys before the holidays to help out those that need the toys as holiday gifts.

Plush = dust

Those plush toys are nice and there is nothing wrong with having a few on hand, but they really are dust collectors and magnets for dust mites (YUCK!). Unless you are willing to clean them at least once every couple of months, try to keep the quantity to just 4 or 5 absolute favourites for space, allergy and health reasons.

Gain some insight

As you sift through the toys and work with your kids you’re going to find out what type of toy they now like and perhaps what exact toy they would love to have. This information will come in handy when Grandma and Grandpa ask what they want or need for gifts. It should also help to reduce the number of toys they receive that they just won’t use.

Take stock of your storage

This is also a great time to determine if your child requires any additional storage space for toys or if the storage system you use is still workable for you and them. Make sure you have enough clear plastic bins to store the small toys so they don’t end up in the bottom of a toy box and never used. In fact, I recommend you discard the toy box entirely. If you insist on keeping it, then only one category of item should live in the toy box. For example, many clients use a toy box for a dress-up chest, so all the costumes live in that box.

Now is the perfect time to start paring down the toys before the chaos known as the holiday season sets in. As professional home organizers in Toronto and the York Region area, ClutterBGone and our organizing elves are ready to travel across the GTA to help you get organized for the holidays. Contact us now to learn more about how ClutterBGone can take the stress out of the holiday season.

Are You Organized For Back To School?

back to school organizing

In the GTA we seem not to have had much of a summer. We had so much rain this year and the temps barely hit 30 degrees a couple of times each month. So when I tell you it’s back to school time you may be as surprised as I am.

Getting the kids off to school after Labour Day just isn’t a matter of waking them up and seeing them off on the first day. You need to be prepared and organized so the kids are ready and prepared as well.

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

Train for bed time now

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

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. Assign each child a bin or basket for their particular school papers so they know where they can return and retrieve items.

Go thru the clothes

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. back to school organizingHow much taller has your child grown over the summer? 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.

Kids Toy Clutter Causing You Grief? Time To De-clutter

Organize kids toys

Now that the kids are out of school I’ll bet there are toys all over the house and yard. With the kids home now is a great time to de-clutter their toys with their help.

Your kids likely receive a lot of toys throughout the year – holidays, birthdays, special occasions or whatever! It’s easy for a child to outgrow their toys and just keep them aside, pack them away or it could be that the particular item just didn’t hold their interest anymore. All kids have their go-to toys and many have toys that are no longer required.

A recent study suggested that children do much better at learning, focus and discipline with fewer toys as there is less distraction and they tend to use more of their imagination which is always a healthy thing! So how do you begin to pare down your children’s toys to a more manageable amount? Here’s a few ideas to help you de-clutter.

Broken toys

You all have them and they’re the easiest to deal with. organize kids toysToys that are broken but were never dealt with at the time and now reside at the bottom of the toy box. Out they go! Even those toys with critical missing parts that you think just may turn up………it’s time to discard those as well to make room for the new stuff. And what about all those little tiny bit of play things you get at fast food chains and birthday parties….those little bits I find the most troublesome and annoying.

Out with the old

With toddlers and younger children it’s easy to go through the toys and make the decisions yourself. You may want to separate the toys into categories and then separate those into toys you will toss, toys you will donate and toys you will store for later (visiting children, more children, special treats for sick days, etc.)

Get the kids involved

Older kids like to be involved and will want a say in what decisions are made with their “stuff”. It’s only fair and sets a good example of respect. Organize kids toysHave them start with choosing the toys they no longer like or play with. It often helps to separate the toys into categories and then have them pick their top 5 or 10 from each category. Explaining to them that some of their toys are no longer age appropriate as they have grown and space is needed to accommodate the new toys that are sure to come their way is a good way to handle hesitation.

 

Your children can also help to take the donations to the donation center to see what happens to them and how they have helped others. Donation centers love to receive toys at any time of year to help those in need.

Plush = dust

Those plush toys are nice and there is nothing wrong with having a few on hand, but they really are dust collectors and magnets for dust mites. Unless you are willing to clean them at least once every couple of months, try to keep the quantity to just 4 or 5 absolute favorites for space, allergy and health reasons.

Gain some insight

As you sift through the toys and work with your kids you’re going to find out what type of toy they now like and perhaps what exact toy they would love to have. This information will come in handy when Grandma and Grandpa ask what they want or need for gifts. It should also help to reduce the number of toys they receive that they just won’t use.

Take stock of your storage

This is also be a great time to determine if your child requires any additional storage space for toys or if the storage system you use is still workable for you and them. Make sure you have enough clear plastic bins to store the small toys so they don’t end up in the bottom of a toy box and never used. In fact, I recommend you discard the toy box entirely. If you insist on keeping it, then only one category of item should live in the toy box. For example, many clients use a toy box for a dress-up chest so all the costumes live in the box.

Now is a great time to start paring down the toys while you have the kids to assess and assist. Let us know how you make out!

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.

Practice Toy Rotation And De-Clutter

How did your kids make out over the holidays? Bad behaviour or not, I’m sure they received a lot of new toys from you, your family and even Santa. Unless you were really organized, you may not have had a chance to go through their toys before the holidays to make room for the new ones. If your kids’ rooms look like a toy factory here are a couple of ways to regain the space and rotate the toys so they will all get used.

Children learn best from new experiences and believe it or not a new experience occurs even after something has been absent for a short period of time. Try rotating your child’s toys by implementing a “toy closet” or “toy treasure chest” for an ongoing learning experience.

Toy Treasure Chest
The principle is simple: Place some of the new toys received, and even old toys that continue to be age appropriate, into the toy closet or treasure chest, hidden away so that every toy owned is not out for use. Children are easily overwhelmed with too many choices. Then on a regular basis, rotate the toys so that your child is not getting overwhelmed or bored with too many choices.   Less is best. The toy treasure chest is also a great idea when you child is not feeling well: A little surprise for him or her from which they can choose a toy.

Of course, organizing the toys out for use is still very important.

Sort into categories

Lets wade right in there and sort all the toys into categories. Cars, blocks, stuffed animals, dolls, etc. You can use laundry baskets or boxes but get everything sorted into categories.

Weed out the broken

As you sort, take a quick look to ensure that the toys are in working order. I know some children have a hard time of letting go of their favourite toy, even if it no longer works or is missing a limb, so maybe encourage them to make the decision between that and a new incoming toy.

Is it still age appropriate?

While you’re at it lets review the toys to make sure they are still age appropriate for your child. Why hang on to it if it will never be used again?

These toys are perfect for donation to replenish your local second hand store or for a yard sale. If the funds go to the owner of the toy they are more apt to agree to let it go.

Divide into play types

Toys can now be stored into categories that can be rotated in and out. Store them into categories like learning (books, puzzles), artistic (coloring), active (dress up, music) and so on. Rotate these categories every few weeks so your children are constantly learning and the toys are being used.

Storage systems

Now that you have everything categorized and the broken and no longer used toys are out, you can plan on how to store these toys in the space you have. Use clear containers whenever possible so your child can easily see what is inside and therefore won’t have the urge to open every container. Containers are great for small toys like cars, blocks and even doll clothes. Store toys at a height that is accessible for your child so they won’t get hurt bringing them out.

Maintenance is key

Now, here comes the fun part – training your child to put it away when they are done. I know it is easier when you are with them but they need to know that this is their job and it will teach them responsibility and organization at an early age. Make it an ongoing thing with a regular review of what’s not being used anymore.

Teach your children valuable life lessons by teaching them how to organize and take care of their belongings and their space.