Organizing In The New Year – 5 Easy Steps

In any business, organizing is a process of establishing work required, the flow of work and grouping of activities related to that work. It really isn’t that different when you apply this to your home or small office.

In the professional organizing industry we like to use the acronym SPACE – Sort, Purge, Assign, Containerize and Evaluate. These 5 basic principles will guide you through the organizing process and allow you to organize pretty much anything.

Sort: This is where you evaluate your items that you wish to organize and sort them into broad categories, placing like items with like items.

sortYou can then further sort your broad categories into smaller ones. For instance, if you’re sorting clothing, begin with placing all your long, short and sleeveless tops in one pile then further refine it into 3 separate piles: one for sleeveless, one for short sleeve, and one for long sleeve. This will help you clearly see how much you have of each type of item.

I recently sorted my husband’s tee shirts in this exact same way. He was surprised at just how many tee shirts he had and was able to purge which included quite a few shirts he just doesn’t wear any longer.

Purge: Purge can sound like a lot of things to a lot of people and can be scary to some, but think if it as the stage where you decide what will stay and what will go. It does not have to mean these are the items you are throwing out in the garbage. We want to keep as much out of the landfill as possible.

Make separate piles for items you are going to donate (it can be a charity or to family); put away (those items that belong in another room or space); sell (via an on-line sale site, garage sale, second hand store, etc.) or throw away (items for garbage or recycle). Don’t be too sentimental with items. After all, you are going through this process for a reason.

Assign : This is where you determine the best place to store items based on how you function on a daily basis. Ask yourself these questions: Where is this supposed to be stored? Where is the most convenient place for me to keep this where it is most often used or needed? Give some thought as to how you work, what your reach limitations are, etc. Don’t put items away that you need often and have to get the step ladder out for.

Containerize: Once you have completed the previous steps, you can shop your own home or office for the appropriate sized containers, or go out shopping for the containers you need to adequately store the items you have.

plastic-storage-containersRemember to store items in containers using the smallest possible container that will house all of the items in a particular category. Try to always use clear totes to easily identify what is inside and always label containers. Choose decorative bins and baskets if you wish that will fit in with your décor if these are to be left out.

 

Evaluate: Now that you have completed the first four steps of the process you need to conduct regular on-going evaluations to maintain the organization that you have now implemented in your space.

These processes will give you a good start on your next project in getting organized so you can calm the chaos. Get your project started and let me know how you’re making out. I would love to hear from you.

Post Christmas “Boxing” Day

Christmas morning can be a very exciting time in the house, especially if you have kids. I could sit back and watch them open gifts all day. Their eyes widen, the smiles go from ear to ear and the squeals of delight are music to my own ears. I’m talking about kids of all ages of course. Most of the gifts that we receive are wrapped up in, or are gifted in, a cardboard box of some type and you wouldn’t believe the number of boxes I find in clients homes. Are you one that feels it is necessary to keep those boxes just in case you may need it later?

Identify what is truly needed

On Christmas morning your home is most likely going to look like a recycling center with all the cardboard and paper that will be strewn all across the room.

Messy Living Room After the Christmas Presents Have Been Opened

I generally try to keep a few pieces of wrapping paper if I find it to be unique or if I know I will use it again and if it is in great shape. I’ll put it in my wrapping station and the rest goes out right away. Don’t try to save it all. There will be too much and you wouldn’t want to receive a gift that looks like the wrapping paper was retrieved from a wastebasket would you?

Next are the boxes. Let’s be very selective on what boxes you decide to keep for whatever reason.

But it’s so pretty!

If Santa brought you something shiny chances are it came in a nice small box. They don’t take up much room and you may re-use it. If you already have one or two from previous gifts that should be all you need. Don’t keep them for sentimental reasons. You have the actual gift for that.

I just may need it when I move

Really? When are you planning on moving? I hear this a lot and unless you have concrete plans to move within the next 6 months it’s better to get rid of it. Empty tv boxMovers are experienced at handling TV’s and computers or blankets do a great job at protecting them if you are moving yourself. Worse case scenario there are plenty of places where you can purchase inexpensive boxes made specifically to house your TV, large prints and more. Why use up your valuable real estate to house empty boxes when that precious space can be used for day to day living!? Did you really buy your home so you could fill it with empty boxes?

Can you re-use it?

Those boxes you get with your gift clothing are easy to fold down and use again for future gifts. But do you really need it? Don’t keep it for the “just in case” scenario. Similar to the used wrapping paper, a shoebox with the makers name and size stickers on the box doesn’t show that much thought was put into the presentation. I’m all for repurposing shoe boxes especially if you do keep your shoes in them for protection, but don’t allow them to become dust collectors.

Tips :

If you have received a big-ticket item for Christmas, and you do end up putting the box out for recycling it’s a good idea to cut the box down and place the cardboard in your bin so the contents are not facing out. recycle-cardboardNo sense advertising to the world the fact that you just got a new TV or computer.

If you are holding onto a box for model or warranty information simply cut that piece off the box and slip it into your warranty file. Or better yet, take a picture of the information and file it electronically.

Christmas is wonderful time of the year. Don’t add to the stress with a pile of cardboard that takes up valuable space. If you need help with after Christmas purging you can contact us here.

How To Stay Calm and Stay Organized During the Holidays

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are just around the corner. Each year they seem to come quicker and quicker. Right after Halloween we start to get bombarded with holiday commercials and you’ve probably noticed that the local paper is a few pounds heavier with the holiday flyers. Here are a few ideas to help stay calm and organized during the holidays.

Holiday Shopping

I know a lot of you put off the holiday shopping until the last minute (guys, I’m talking to you) but try to set some time aside to get it done earlier.

Holiday-Shopping-Tips-e1341181827937Put 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 over the holidays.

Gift Wrapping

If you haven’t already, gather all of your wrapping supplies and keep them in one place. Make a list of what you are short of and get out to buy what you need before the selection is minimal in the stores. A basket or even a box will do to hold the tape, ribbons, bows, etc. that you will need.

II use an old cookie tin for bows to keep them from being flattened. Gently tie all of your rolls of wrapping paper together. Prepare a ‘wrapping station’ somewhere in the house and bring all of the gifts to this area for wrapping. Everyone will know where the station is and you will not have to hunt down the supplies when other people wrap gifts.

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.

Holiday mealMake a list now of everything that you will need for dinner. Order the turkey, the ham or whatever you cook to celebrate now 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 favourite 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 or clothes of your kids 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 get 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.

gift-givingMany 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 items over the holidays are returned or even worse, not used at all and end up adding to the clutter that people already have. When in doubt gift cards are always appreciated and with the newer 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 we can reduce the stress and stay organized during this time. If you need assistance in getting ready for the holiday season there is still time. Contact us here to see how we can help.

Can You Make Room For Santa?

Do you have a head start on purchasing your holiday gifts or are you going to leave it to the last minute – again? Like it or not the holidays are approaching. Now is a great time to take stock of your child’s toys to make room for the new toys that Santa and family will be bringing into your home in order to make the holidays less stressful than they already are.

Kids receive a lot of toys at holiday time. Many toys are abandoned right after Christmas and left at the bottom of a toy box or closet as your child quickly outgrows certain toys. Or it could be that the particular item just didn’t hold their interest. All kids have their go-to toys and many have toys that are no longer required.

Broken toys

broken toysThese are the easiest to deal with. We all have them. Toys 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.

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

Happy-Children-Picture-7Older 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 or 10 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. They 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 Christmas to help out those that need the toys as gifts for Christmas.

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

multi-bin-toy-organizerThis 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 the perfect time to start paring down the toys before the chaos known as the holiday season sets in. If you require assistance contact us and we can talk. Let us know how you make out!

Get Your Children Organized For Life

Many parents let out a sigh of relief when the kids went back to school. We love them but after a couple of months of entertaining them and being around the house so much we appreciate our kids being back in school.

Many of you thought of tackling the disorganization in their rooms while they are in school, however with work, chores, shopping and the hundreds of other things that come up in our busy days we just don’t have the time. Why not teach them to organize themselves?

Give Them Credit

Kids are smarter than we give them credit for. Get them involved in keeping a neat, organized room at an early age.smart kids It will get them in the habit for later in life and give you a little help in keeping the whole home neater.

Give Them Cash

One way to help them decide what to keep and what needs to go is to hold a family yard sale. Let your child decide what he or she has outgrown. All the proceeds from the sale of each child’s items goes to that child. Together you can decide what will be done with the funds. Buy new, age appropriate items, invest in an education saving account or whatever you both decide.

Charity Begins At Home

Many other families can benefit from the items that your children have outgrown. Both gently used toys and clothes are always in need in every community. charitable-kids-that-giveExplain to your children how these items will be used and take your kids with you to the donation centre encouraging them to hand over the toys to the representative at the centre.

Explain to your kids what happens to the items and how they will be used again by another family and other children in need.

Display The Memories

Shadow boxes are becoming very popular for items to be showcased to remind us of loved ones or special times in our lives.

Instead of keeping old baby clothes and items that will never be used again stored away in containers, have your child go through these items with you and select a few things that mean something special to them. Showcase them in a shadow box that can be displayed in their room or elsewhere in the house rather than piled up (probably getting damaged) on the floor or in a box, rarely to be seen.

You will be surprised at how much your kids will appreciate being able to see their treasures displayed, even later in life.

Give Them The “Atta Boys”

Praise goes a long way and we all appreciate it.atta boy Regardless of whether their standards of cleaning and organizing reach your level or not, heap on the praise for a job well done. It will act as encouragement to your kids to organize and to continue with the maintenance of staying organized. This will prevent them from just giving up at some point and returning to the way things were.

 

Lead By Example

Finally, our children are always learning and the best way to learn is by example. Don’t expect your children to stay organized if you do not. If you want their room kept neat and orderly ensure yours is too and they will work to impress you and be just like you.

Children learn adult lessons all through life and by teaching them to be neat and organized early on will help them be that way later in life. A bonus is that it will definately reduce your work around the house too!

If you need assistance with your children in getting their rooms organized we can help. Contact us here for more information.

5 Smart Solutions to Organize Your Family Sports Gear

Although winter is upon us, there are many sports teams in full swing.  With that often comes chaos with so much gear to not only store and keep organized, but also to retrieve and return easily.  Here are 5 smart solutions to organize your family sports gear.

hockey storage lockersPick a spot

Choose a spot where all of the sports equipment in your house can fit, whether it is Dad’s golf clubs, your son’s football gear or your daughter’s baseball equipment. No one will waste time looking for something as you head out the door if it’s all in one place.

Storage pieces

Regardless of where you store your equipment you don’t need to spend a lot of money on storage pieces. Sturdy plastic shelving and bins will do the trick.

pallet sports equipmentI recently saw this and thought what an inexpensive and smart way to store hockey sticks, baseball clubs, lacrosse sticks and many other things without tripping over the fallen ones in the garage.

Balls galore

If you have a lot of balls that get used (soccer, football, volleyball, etc.) then there are a couple of good options. Hang netting from the ceiling and keep all of the balls inside the netting, again saving trip hazards over loose balls.

Or, use plastic containers the size of recycling totes that can be attached to the wall or placed on a shelf.

Hockey, eh?

Hockey equipment is probably the toughest challenge. It’s so easy to toss the equipment into a bag and forget about it until the next game. Have you ever smelled the inside of those duffel bags?

hockey rack drying treeGet those pads out of the bag and hung on the wall or on strong hangers to air them out and get the skates put away for airing out as well.

Socks, jerseys and the rest go straight into the wash but I’ll leave that challenge to you!

 

Footwear folly

Don’t forget the shoes and boots. All sports have their own special footwear and a wall mounted shelf or a multi tiered tray will contain all the shoes for the entire family and should be kept right next to the equipment.

However you decide to store your sports equipment you can store them inexpensively with a little imagination and handy work.

ClutterBGone has a lot of experience in helping sports minded family’s get organized and ready for the sports seasons. To learn more about how we can help you organize your sports chaos, contact us here for your free 10 minute telephone consultation.

Organizing Teens For Back to School

Here we are, well into August already, and I don’t know about you but in Ontario if feels like summer really hasn’t arrived yet! Try to contain your excitement folks but school starts in less than a month.

Now is a good time to start getting your teens organized for when they return to school with schedules, activities, sign-up sheets and more!

school3Here are some clever organizing strategies and ideas for back to school organizing for your young scholars.

Preparing for earlier bedtimes

Let’s start with the obvious. Probably for most of the summer there have been little to no restrictions on bed curfew unless they had a summer job.

Start to wean your kids’ back on to a schedule a week or two ahead of school opening so they are not dragging their feet from the very start of the school year.

Plan extra-curriculars

Plan on which extra -curricular activities they are going to participate in during the school year and keep in mind that these activities, although beneficial, impact on grades so make sure your child can balance both school and the activities they participate in. Do your best not to over-schedule your kids so that they have the greater chance of success in their academic year.

School shopping

Back to school shopping can be fun as well as daunting. Try to purchase only what you require to start the year as you will find additional items need to be purchased as the year gets under way.

And remember the one in, one out rule on clothing too. Don’t forget that teens have opinions (rightly so) and are not afraid to tell you what they think.

bindersHave them come along when shopping so they can have input and learn to make good choices for both clothing and supplies. Try to have one binder for each subject or at the least have dividers to separate the subjects in one binder.

Bring your patience and negotiation skills as well as your wallet.

Study space

All students need a clean and quiet area to study in – no matter what they will tell you. Set aside an area that is clear of all clutter and is relatively quiet for studying and have the student choose from a few options in terms of the time of day they prefer to study. With giving them some input you stand a better chance of them following the schedule.

Have this area stocked with the “tools of the trade” (pens, paper, etc.) so there are less interruptions during this study time. A planner/agenda in this area can also be helpful to keep track of what is due when and which days of the week sports fall on.

Prepare for the first day the night before

Pack what is required the night before. This may be a challenge for most teens but better to do it the night before than running the risk of a chaotic morning looking for what is needed. Remember when you were a teen and needed every minute of sleep in the morning?

Packing the evening before will ensure that they have everything for the day so when they blow out of the house in the morning like a hurricane they will have all the necessities with less chance of a meltdown. Throw a few healthy snacks into their bag as well so when hunger sets in there is less chance they will head to the junk food machines.

Teens have been through this before but still need assistance and sometimes a bit of a push to get ready for the new school year. Making sure they are ready and organized will give them a head start to a successful year.

ClutterBGone has assisted many families in getting homes, rooms and home offices organized for the start of the school year. If you require assistance you can contact us here and learn how we can make a smooth transition to the new school year.

How To Organize Your Kid’s Bedroom

Keeping your child’s bedroom organized and clutter-free can sometimes feel like a fulltime job. There’s no need for it to be that way though if you just follow a few of our handy tips below.

1-Look through the eyes of your child

Like a photographer, you should take a different view of your child’s room to realize what it’s like through their eyes. It’s a good idea to get down to their eye level and take a good look at the room from their vantage point to see what they see. It’s important to remember that your child is smaller and adult organizing systems may not be suited for them. Many small children have a hard time reaching coat hangers, pulling out dresser drawers, and opening and closing large closet doors etc. You need to put yourself in the child’s shoes and use systems which are suitable for children rather than adults. You may want to take the doors off of the closet, purchase children’s-sized coat hangers and lower the clothing rods.

kids under bed storage

2-Work your way up

Unless your child’s already six-feet tall you should organize their room from the bottom to the top. Keep all of their most popular toys and clothing items closer to their level and the floor. You can do this by storing these things in lower-level drawers and containers. The higher levels should be reserved for the items they don’t use as much. This will make it easier for them to put things away.

kids organized wall unit

3-Ask your child for advice

Since your child is going to be asked to do his or her part to keep their room clean you should also ask their advice on how to do it. Listen to their input and ask them for ideas. If you just enter the room like a drill sergeant and start hollering orders your method may not be too effective. You’ll both be a lot better off in the long run if you can teach your child some lifelong organizational skills. Try to make room-cleaning a learning and fun activity. You can help do this by creating a daily checklist for the child to tick off after each chore is done. Ask your child how they’d like to keep the room clean and then go from there, incorporating some of your own ideas along the way. Since the child will feel they came up with a system that makes sense to them there’s a better chance they’ll stick to it.

Neat Kids Closet

3-Sort things out

Most children’s rooms are relatively small and there’s not a lot of natural storage space. But you’ll soon find your child wants to keep everything they own, especially when it comes to toys. Take the time to sort through their toys and clothing and get rid of the things that are no long used or needed. You could always give them to the needy or a charity at the same time. If you have enough storage room elsewhere in your home you may also want to sort things out seasonally. For instance, your child doesn’t need to store their winter clothing in the room during the middle of summer. If possible, store these items somewhere else and then make a change in sync with the seasons. When it comes to the toys you may want to take just a few things at a time instead of hauling them all away at once. This will help keep the peace.

organize Kids Desk Room

4-Provide enough storage containers

While we’re on the subject of toys, you can’t really complain about clutter if there’s nowhere for the child to store them. Make sure your son or daughter has a specific storage area for each toy. You may want to provide them with shoebox containers and/or larger bins for storage. You can also use supply them with specialty organizers for items such as DVDs, comic books, magazines, and video games etc. Also, it’s a good idea to tell the child they’re welcome to play with another toy once their current one is put away in the proper place. Just make sure the child can easily put something away without any hindrances. If it takes little effort to put their toys away there’s a better chance they’ll do it.

kids storage bins

5-Use labels

That label maker you received as an anniversary present may actually be useful after all. You can make labels for your child’s belongings and place them where their items are supposed to go. If the child isn’t reading age yet you could use a computer printer to create pictures of items such as socks, sweaters, shoes, and toys etc. Simply place the labels on the storage containers that are to be used.

kids labels organizing

6-Create a daily routine

You can make cleaning chores easier if they’re incorporated into a daily routine. For example, the morning routine could consist of making or straightening out the bed while the evening routine sees the child putting his or her dirty clothes in the laundry basket before going to sleep. Toys can also be put away at bedtime to keep the room clutter-free.

Have an organizing question?  If you have an organizing question or would like the help of a professional organizer, you can contact me here.

Protect Your Kids Online With Back to School Safety Tips

It’s that time of the year when we have to think about getting our children organized for back to school.  Not only does this mean back to school shopping for clothing items and school accessories, but it also means thinking of your child’s needs for mobile technology

With the purchase of mobile technology and the use of the Internet, getting your ground rules organized for mobile/Internet safety is critical.  Cyber bullying is on the rise and with most children social networking and media sharing are common every day events.  As such its important get some ground rules organized with your children to keep them safe. 

infographic-back-to-school-guide_0This Infographic, courtesy of Kaspersky.com provides you with a way to organize your talk with your children to keep them safe in this world of technology.  These are great tips for back to school safety.  Have the talk and keep your children safe!

How To Organize Your Bag or Knapsack

Looking for a way to organize your bag or knapsack?  The GRID IT! system by Cocoon Innovations is a versatile and functional organizing system. Made of rubberized women elastic, it firmly holds most digital devices and personal items in place.

With endless configurations you can customize to your needs. Plus, there are a variety of sizes and designs to choose from.  Great for laptops, notebooks, IPADS, travel cases, knapsacks and handbags.  Many of them also have zippered pouches on the back to contain even more items. Google it and check it out – you won’t be disappointed.