Posts

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.

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

contemporary / very well decorated / show home living room

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

Know why you want to de-clutter

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

Do you really love it?

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

Create a sorting system

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

sort

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

Keep flat surfaces clear at all times

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

Involve others

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

Continually donate

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

give

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

Don’t click those ads on line!!

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

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

Stay Organized During the Holidays

christmas-ornament

With everything that’s happening around the holidays it’s difficult, impossible maybe (?), to stay organized through the holiday period. Like it or not, the holidays are almost here. Is it just me, or do they start with holiday commercials right after Halloween? 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 (guys, I’m talking to you) but try to set some time aside to get it done earlier. 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 over the holidays. A lot of 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.

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. 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 to celebrate now to ensure you have the size you need.

christmas-dinner

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 or clothes of you and 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. 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.

christmas-gifts

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 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 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.

Get Organized Week

get-organized-sign

Get organized week just past, being the first week of October. Now’s a great time to take part in Get Organized Week with Thanksgiving just over and the Christmas holidays approaching fast. What did you do to get organized?

Being organized isn’t just having a home that looks neat and tidy and where everything has a place. It is also about being able to easily retrieve items you need, not needlessly spending money on items you already have, not having any safety hazards in the home and not wasting precious time. Here’s a quick list of benefits that I promise you will see when you are organized.

Increase your productivity

How many hours do you spend looking for things? If you are part of the national average you are spending one year of your life looking for things. A recent IKEA survey showed that we spend 6 minutes on average looking for our keys in the morning! Newsweek says that we spend 55 minutes each day looking for things we own but can’t find. Get some of that time back and be more productive with your time by being organized.

Improve your health

We all know that stress is a killer and stress can be caused by something as easily as not being able to find something important when you need it.

stress

When you’re organized you will have less stress resulting in more relaxation time or time to do just about anything you want to do. Sound good?

Save money

How often have you gone out and purchased something that you just knew you didn’t have, only to find out shortly after that you did indeed have that item? Now you own more than one and sometimes you will never get any use out of the second one you have.

Do you pay late fees because you can’t put your hands on your bill? You do know that late payments reflect poorly on your credit rating. Get organized and save money.

Be an example to your family

Often when I make an initial visit to a client I find out that they came from a family of disorganization.

familypic

Their parents were disorganized with clutter and they didn’t know any way else. Being organized is a skill that will benefit your children throughout their lives in school, at work, and in their own home.

This is just four of the many benefits to being organized. Get Organized Week may have just past but it is not too late to become organized. Give us a call and we can let you know of the many more benefits to being organized.

Keeping Small Spaces Organized

apartment-shelving-organization

Many of the projects that we work on involve downsizing where people are moving from a larger home to something smaller and more manageable for them. Space can often be a challenge when you’re used to an abundance of storage. The same applies for people moving out of the home for the first time to a condo or apartment.

Here’s list of tips to help keep a small space organized.

Take advantage of the space you think you don’t have

What did she just say? You may have to get creative when dealing with the smaller spaces. Do you have space above your kitchen cabinets? Decorative baskets up there will hold cookbooks or smaller appliances that are seldom used. Space under the bed can be used to store off-season clothing in clear containers. Take a walk around your space with this thought process in mind. Look up and maximize your vertical spaces.

Keep things tidy

It’s especially important to keep a tidy home when space is limited. Even a plate on the counter or a couple of magazines out of place can cause a cluttered look.

kitchen-counter-neat

Stay vigilant in putting things away and you will be surprised at how easy it is to keep your home looking tidy and organized.

Keep your counters clear

This is mandatory. I’ve been in several small condos where kitchen appliances are left out on the counter and it has made the entire kitchen look cluttered. When not in use (and many are not used all that often), store them away. And whenever possible purchase the smallest version of the appliance that you can, especially for a condo.

Look up

Take advantage of any opportunities that you may have to store vertically. Many new homes and condos being built today have 9-foot ceilings or taller. Use this extra space to store or decorate using higher shelving or taller built-ins and multifunctional pieces.

Store it off site

In a pinch, there is a host of off-site storage companies that have appeared as they know people are always looking for space. The newer ones have all inside storage, 24-hour camera security and free use of dollies and carts.

self-storage

Rates can be very competitive as well so if there are items you just can’t fit into your new place and cannot bare to part with, outside storage is an option.

Purchase multi-functional pieces

When making purchases for your new space try to purchase multi-functional items like an ottoman that doubles as a storage trunk or a murphy bed that folds away. A room divider can also act as a wall unit or bookshelf. The ideas are endless.

Prioritize

Finally, take a real hard look at what you have and what you use. How often will you use that ice cream maker you received as a gift? Do you really have the space for 2 or 3 sets of dishes? When space is limited you need to prioritize between what you have and what you really need or will really use.

Living in smaller quarters certainly has its advantages – less to clean, less maintenance – but it takes a little work to keep it organized and looking uncluttered.

We have assisted countless individuals in getting ready to downsize and in creating space when you think there is none. If you think you need assistance, just contact us here. We would love to talk.

Exactly How Does Clutter Accumulate?

 

Organized living room

Clutter means different things to different people. Many of us can work in and actually thrive in, what others would consider a cluttered state. Others have to be in or work in a minimalist state. Whatever environment works for you, at some point we find ourselves with too much clutter around us. How does that happen?

Life happens

You are all so busy these days with raising a family, working (maybe even more than one job) or just not aware or caring what is accumulating around you. Some of you are able to see it as it happens and act on it and some just realize one day that you’re finding it hard to find things and spending more time looking for things or cleaning up than actually getting tasks completed.

Your energy is gone

With a busy life comes reduced energy levels and who wants to clean or organize after a busy week or weekend? You need to be in the mood and have a high level of energy to start the process.

Too tired dog

Starting without the ability to see it through will only defeat you and prevent you from going at it again.

Life has thrown you a curve

A critical illness or the loss of a loved one can leave you spinning out of control and put you out of commission for a very long time. You rarely go out and don’t have the energy to do anything at all. Depression can cause you to remove yourself from the rest of the world giving you the same results.

I know a lot of you tend to hang on to certain items thinking you’ll make use of them again whether it’s a broken appliance or maybe even some clothes that you think you’ll fit into again. Lean on your family and friends during these times for help and support.

But it was on sale!

What better way to feel good about something you bought then to know how much you saved? Want to save even more?

Sale

Don’t buy it at all unless you really need it and when you do make the purchase remember my rule on clothing – one in equals one out. If you find it hard to resist a good buy try to limit your trips to the mall or the big box stores.

Hoarding tendencies

Maybe you were raised in a household that always had clutter and you don’t know any other way. This cycle can be broken so you can enjoy more free time.

No matter how clutter appeared in your life or what your level of tolerance for clutter is, we can help.

ClutterBGone has helped many clients with all different levels of clutter and disorganization in their lives. If you need help, we’re here to give you a hand and see it through. Contact us here.

6 Key Back To School Organizing Tips

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

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

Train for bed times now

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

Set up a central station

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

Homework station

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

Get the homework area ready now

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

Go thru the clothes now

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

Kids clothes closet

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

Ensure emergency numbers are handy

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

“Tween” kit

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

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

Closet Organizers – What You Need To Do Before You Purchase

 

Closet 3

One of the favourite places to start an organizing project is the master bedroom closet. You go in and out of it a few times a day for clothes, shoes, bags and a lot more that you store in there. Many of my clients ask me about installing closet organizers and what I would suggest. There are many different types and styles for many different styles and budgets. Regardless of which style you decide on there are procedures to follow as you start your organizing project.

A picture is worth a thousand words

I like to take a picture of every project I start and then a picture when I finish so I can see the difference. Sometimes it’s difficult to see what you’ve accomplished without having the starting point to refer to. So before everything comes out and the closet organizer goes in, take a picture.

S-P-A-C-E

As you follow my blog you know this acronym of SPACE.

S = Sort everything into piles. These piles can be determined by you such as your bags, pants, scarves, etc.

P = Pare down what is no longer wanted or needed. Here is where you need to be tough on yourself. Do you need that many bags? Will you really want that item when you lose the weight? Keep only what you love and that you feel great in or about. A lot of these items would be welcomed by your local charity or gently used clothing shop.

A = Assign a home for what is left. Everything goes back putting like with like. Keep the colors together too.

C = Containerize what you can using clear plastic containers or decorative bins so it’s easy to see or know what ‘s inside.  Labelling is key in this regard. If hanging space is at a minimum, scarves or belts can fit into containers quite easily and some of my clients use clear shoe box size containers to hold each pair of shoes. Shoes stay clean, the containers stack well and you can easily pick out the shoes you need.

E = Evaluate every so often to ensure the system you implemented is working for you and that you’re not accumulating more. Remember the one in, one out rule.

Closet 1

Closet Organizing Systems – do this first!

If you’re putting a closet organizing system in yourself, make sure you have your closet measurements when selecting your closet organizing system. You’ll need the height, length and width and remember to take into account the baseboards and any crown mouldings. You don’t want to have to take a second trip to the store, or worse, be stuck with system pieces that won’t work for you.

Before purchasing any custom or do-it-yourself closet organizer ensure you first pare down and see the complete volume of each category of clothing and accessories you need to include in your closet. Otherwise the system you decide to implement may not be sufficient to functionally and efficiently hold all your items. You may need more shelves and drawers and less hanging room, or vice versa.

Closet 4

Maximize and take advantage of height and ensure you have at least 2 closet rods to double your hanging opportunity and maximize the space. Don’t forget to allocate hanging space for longer items.  Spend the extra few dollars and purchase all new hangers. You don’t want a new closet organizing system installed with a ragged collection of various sized and coloured hangers.

Research the various closet organizing products and systems on the market before you purchase. There are several price points available and all can be very functional for you. You don’t have to spend thousands to be organized.

If you are thinking of installing a closet organizer or having one installed soon, follow these tips to assist you to maximize your space. If you need help with getting your closets de-cluttered and efficiently organized, we at ClutterBGone have helped a lot of clients do just that. Whether you do yourself or not we would love to see your before and after pictures.

Breaking The Cycle Of Clutter and Chronic Disorganization – A Case Study

 

Decluttering Services Toronto

Not that long ago we were tasked with helping a client and her family declutter and organize their home. This was a special job in that both the husband and the wife had come from a background of severe clutter in their respective family homes where they grew up. In fact, both came from homes that bordered on hoarding and were never taught the benefits of an organized home let alone how to get organized.

If you don’t live in an organized home or teach your children the benefits of being organized, the lack of organization can easily contribute to poor grades in school and may end up affecting your performance on the job in the future.

Our clients realized the importance of home organization and, with a newborn in their home, they wanted to get organized, stay organized and teach this important skill to their own child. They saw their parents living in a state of clutter and chaos their whole lives, never inviting anyone into their home for fear of being embarrassed, so our clients decided to put an end to the cycle.

organized childs room

When living at their respective family homes they themselves developed their own social anxieties and felt shame when having friends over to play. They did not want this cycle to continue.

It was hard for them at first, having a team go through the house, working with them to sort, categorize, de-clutter and at times challenge them on what they wanted to keep or where they wanted to keep it.

Decluttering and organizing isn’t just throwing items away. It’s a process of determining what is important to you, thinking about how you function in your home, what is essential, and setting up a system that works for you in order to maintain a clutter free home after our work is completed.

We pride ourselves in being friends to the environment as well so any items that are leaving the home will be looked at for possible sale or donation before it’s deemed suitable for the trash.

Our clients were determined to see this project through and quickly became part of our team working alongside us as well as being the final decision makers. They saw that we were non-judgemental and our only aim was to ensure that we accomplished their goal of creating a clutter-free, organized and functional home that they would be proud to entertain in and have their child’s friends come over to play without embarrassment.

Teamwork

With the help of a few clear bins of various sizes, we found a home for all the necessary and important items and left our clients with a system that works for them and is relatively low maintenance. We even arranged for the removal of items that were leaving the house.

“I feel like it is a miracle that we have found your company, who non-judgmentally, works with us, and allows us to get to a better sense of self-worth as it relates to controlling our clutter and developing a welcoming safe haven for our child to grow up in. ” Their words, not ours.

I can’t think of a job that we’ve completed where we didn’t feel like we had helped our clients surpass their goals and complement their lives. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – We love what we do! We have a passion and drive to transform our client’s lives.

Organizing Statistics That Will Surprise You

Tidy-modern-living-room

As a Professional Organizer, I’m always reading about the effect of clutter and disorganization on personal and professional lives. I thought that I’d share a few statistics that surprised even me.

You all probably know the 80/20 rule in business. 80% of your sales come from 20% of your stock or inventory numbers. Well, the same rule applies to your home. 80% of what we keep rarely, if ever, gets used. Before you make that purchase make sure you’re going to get good use out of it, no matter what it is. And remember my golden rule for clothing – one in = one out.

Paper organized 2

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.

Here’s a stat that I love to see. The TLC series Clean Sweep conducted a survey a few years back that indicated that 90% of Americans were planning on organizing a part of their life that year. 81% planned on performing a spring-cleaning and 74% of those were doing so because they were tired of clutter in their lives.

Most people planned to pare down their wardrobe first followed by a purge of the hall closet. Can you guess the one thing most people would never get rid of? Photos of their children.

Several years ago a Boston marketing firm conducted a study that found that the average North American wastes 55 minutes a day looking for things. These are things they know they have but can’t find. That works out to over 2 days a year. Would you like to get this time back by being a little better organized?

quality time

In the average home getting rid of clutter will result in about 40% less housework. Who wouldn’t want that? It’s estimated that 80% of the clutter in most homes is a result of being disorganized and not having enough space.

I can’t count the number of people we have assisted who have been amazed at the space they actually have once we get them organized and leave them with a plan to stay organized. No need to move thinking you have outgrown your home.

Lastly, the US Department of Energy estimated that 25% of people who own a two car garage don’t park any cars in there at all and that 32% of owners only parked one car there. We have all seen the people who use their garages as man caves with the TV’s and smoking areas but we have all also seen the garages packed to the rafters with personal belongings. The garage is probably one of the worst areas to store goods with the changing temperatures in our country, the dusty conditions and the concrete floor that attracts moisture. If you fall into this latter category we can help you find the space you need.

I hope you found these stats as interesting as I did. I will post a few interesting statistics on offices shortly. Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, if you need help organizing any part of your home we’re here to help. Just contact me here.