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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.

Hoarding: What Is It and What You Should Know About It

What is Hoarding?

Hoarding is the overwhelming difficulty of throwing away or getting rid of one’s possessions. It is often classified as as a compulsive behaviour. The possessions could range from plastic bags to old newspapers and magazines. Regardless of the items accumulated, the value of them are irrelevant to the owner.

Those with this compulsive behaviour accumulate a large quantity of possessions, which is what makes this behaviour stand out in comparison to other people. The compulsive behaviour which is associated with hoarding can also be related to compulsive buying, compulsive collecting of free items, or a compulsive search for the perfect item.

Hoarding is not to be confused with collecting. The behaviour of collectors is often prideful in regards to their possessions and are proud to display their items. Collectors are also more organized than hoarders.

Hoarding Toronto

What are the Symptoms of Hoarding?

Individuals with a hoarding disorder often demonstrate severe anxiety when attempting to get rid of an item, or have the inability to discard their possessions to make space for new ones. Those affected with this compulsive behavior often find it difficult to organize their belongings, as they often feel unsettled about where to keep them. In some cases, they even feel unsettled about their possessions, and often act suspicious of other people touching any of the items. This compulsive behavior causes obsessive thoughts of their items whereabouts, or possibly not having enough of one particular item.

 

Why Do People Hoard?

The compulsive thoughts associated with hoarding are often that the individual believes they need the item for future use, feel a strong sentimental value towards it, it is irreplaceable, or they got such a great deal that they don’t want to throw it away. In some cases hoarding may be a disorder on its own; however, it is a common symptom of other disorders such as obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and/or depression. In rare cases, hoarding can be associated with disorders such as an eating disorder, pica, Prader-Willi syndrome, psychosis, or dementia

 

How Does Hoarding Affect One’s Quality of Life?

Hoarding diminishes one’s quality of life considerably. Due to a considerable number of possessions, the hoarder’s living space may become unhealthy or even dangerous. Many hoarders will live without basic comforts, and cope with things such as broken appliances or furnace in order to avoid somebody coming into their living space to fix the problem. In many cases, this behavior causes issues among the individual’s family, from feelings of anger and resentment to depression. Hoarding can affect the social development of children who live in the space, and can have an impact on the family structure from divorce to loss of child custody. Hoarding can cause the living space to be unlivable, which may lead to eviction. Serious financial problems can occur as well.

 

What are the Effects of Hoarding?

As a result, hoarding behavior can be damaging and affects both the individuals with the hoarding behavior and their family members. This behavior can affect those on many levels, including emotional, physical and social, as well as financial and/or legal. In some cases, due to the loss of living space because of the large quantity of items, the living conditions can cause health problems.

For more organization tips, look no further than your professional organizing team at ClutterBGone. ClutterBGone is proud to serve Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area, including York and Durham regions. From home organizing and downsizing, to small office organizing, ClutterBGone is here to help you stay organized and give you peace of mind.

5 Top Reasons Why You Want To Get Organized!

This is something that I get around to asking all of my prospective clients when I meet them for the initial consultation. But it recently occurred to me to ask you – and everyone else – “Why do you want to get organized?”

There are many answers that I have received over the years and everyone does have their own specific reason(s). Here are the top 5 reasons that I have been given to date.  Check to see if your reasons made this list.

1) I’m tired of not being able to find things without sending out a search party.

looking for lost items

Sound familiar?

We spend so much time looking for things we know we have or we know should be in a particular place but are not. We waste a lot of time and end up stressing out when we can’t quickly put our hands on something we know we have, and it always happens at the most inopportune time. Cooking? “Where is that stupid spatula?” Bill due? “I know I put it here somewhere!”

Think of all the time you will get back and the reduction on your stress levels when you are organized and have a system in place to stay that way.

2) “I miss having people over”. “I’m too embarrassed”.

I hear this one a lot.

People who are chronically disorganized find themselves pulling away from friends and family out of embarrassment or fear of what they may think about you if they see the state of your living condition. You don’t realize that it is you they love and want to spend time with. Your embarrassment gets in the way.

Once you are organized you will find your social life opens up again and you are eager to have people over to entertain.

3) “There’s so much stuff it’s not safe”.

do you have too much stuff

Safety. Whether it is for the safety of yourself or for a loved one you want to be organized for these reasons too. Piles of “stuff” in the basement. Boxes and boxes of paper piles can light up a fire in no time flat. Too many things on the kitchen counter can be a fire hazard. Something falling out of a cupboard when it is opened can hit you or someone else. Tripping hazards on the floor can send someone to the hospital.

Once organized your living area will not only look and feel better to you but will be a safer environment as well. This is especially important for the older ones in our lives.

4) “I need to reduce my stress and feel in control again”.

We touched on it above but being disorganized can put a lot of stress on you to the point where it can affect your health, your relationships and your job. We all know stress is hard on the heart. We should all be doing as much as we can to reduce or eliminate stress in our lives.

5) “It’s costing me money!”

piles of tools

Got your attention? How many times have you run out to purchase a tool, greeting card or wrapping paper, a grocery item or something else at the last minute (here’s that stress thing again) because you could not find it at home? You know you have it and you know it will turn up somewhere at some point but you just can’t put your finger on it right now.

So what do you do? You go out and buy another one. Eventually you may find the original, but in the meantime you have duplicates, even quadruplicates of items. When you get organized you will not need to waste your time and money on things you already have.

So, did your reason make this list? Get organized now and save time, stress and money AND improve your lifestyle. Let me know if you have any other reasons to get organized in your home or office. We would love to hear from you!

I Felt Cheated Until I Lived With a Professional Organizer

It’s not very ofter that I have guest blogger on my site, but my husband insisted that he write a post about living with an organizer.  So, below you have it.  A husband’s point of view.

I have always thought I was a fairly neat and tidy person. Although I will admit that I am not the most organized person in the world, I didn’t really think I was disorganized. Let me tell you that living in the Toronto area and being the husband of a Professional Organizer will let you find out just how organized or disorganized you really are!

In the beginning you may be a tad annoyed with the way things seem to be organized and the need to keep it up, but eventually you become appreciative of those things that may have bothered you in the past. Let me give you a couple of examples:

Clothing organized

For a guy, how easy is it to maintain your wardrobe? You buy something new, pick up dry cleaning or put away your laundry by hanging it up or putting it in the drawers, right?

organized man clothes

Not so. I have learned that it helps if you hang your clothes according to colour and have all your shirts hanging the same way. Not only does this give you a neat appearance but it makes selecting your clothes a whole lot easier.

In and out

One in, one out rule for clothes – Originally this rule just seemed just plain silly to me. Why would you want to get rid of something just because something new came in? Well, it turns out this may just be the best advice an organizer can give you. Rather than having closets that are crammed to the point where nothing else will fit, or piled in a dresser drawer that is overflowing, I have learned that if you follow this simple rule you will always have a neat and organized clothing space with easy to find whatever you need.

Organized Kitchen

Just last week I put a frying pan away in the “wrong spot” and was “politely” reminded of where it lives. I use this as an example of why every thing needs a home. I can’t tell you the time I have wasted in the past looking for things that were in the wrong place.

organized cubby kitchen

A lot less time spent looking for things and a lot less frustration is the result of putting things back where they belong. Lesson learned.

Giving to the community

Giving back.  This is by far the most important lesson learned from living with a professional organizer. Rather than tossing out things that I no longer require I take the time to look at it and decide if it is in good enough shape to donate. There are so many organizations that can use and even depend on donations to help the less fortunate. Everything from clothing to toys to small appliances and even items of value that can be sold at charity stores or auctions can be used to help someone else.

So, yes, being married to a professional organizer can have its challenges, but it really does make life more calm, less stressful and more giving. I highly recommend it and I’m not just saying that because my wife is standing over my shoulder. Really.

Doug Ward, happy husband of a professional organizer.

5 Reasons Cluttered Homes Don’t Sell

De-cluttered home that sellsThis article was originally published on the Comfree Blog, where I am a frequent contributor. You can view the original article here.

You’ve got several people in line to take a look at your house that you’ve just put up for sale. The lawn is immaculate, the driveway is as smooth as glass, and there isn’t a single wrinkle in your clothes. However, behind closed doors lies a completely different story.

“I know where to find everything in my own house!” you might argue. That might very well be true for you, but what about the couple looking at your home for the first time? Are they convinced?

It turns out that it does matter to other people whether your home is presented as spic and span or as the remnants of a hurricane. The “hygiene” of your house can potentially be the difference between a brief, disinterested house tour and an enthusiastic down payment.

Here are five reasons cluttered houses don’t sell and why you should clear the clutter before putting it on the market.

1. First impressions are critical

From the moment a potential buyer sets foot in the house their opinion on how suitable it is as a home depends greatly on first impressions. It makes sense. Why buy something that doesn’t deliver your specific needs?

It’s critical to ensure that every room conveys its purpose. There shouldn’t be plates in the living room nor should there be newspapers scattered in the kitchen. Only when everything is in its rightful place can a potential buyer assume that the house offers living space appropriate to his or her needs.

2. Potential buyers need to be able to visualize themselves in the home

Not that you need to encourage anyone to make themselves feel at home but if you’re hoping to make a sale you want potential buyers to relate to you as a homeowner. The couple taking a look around your living room should be able to picture themselves sitting on the couch with their feet on the coffee table after a long day.

If your couch is covered in dog fur and your coffee table is littered with old mail, chances are they’re not picturing anything of the sort.

3. Buyers want a home with lots of space to live in

Ultimately, you want to present your house as a place that is suitable for comfortable living. Spaciousness is crucial in illuminating the potential of the house in that regard.

With the right furniture arrangement you can make that effort to appease potential buyers and demonstrate that they too can enjoy living in this very house with as much or as little space as they desire. But of course show them more space as opposed to less and let them see what they’re working with.

4. Your closet says a lot about you

Someone taking a look in your bedroom might like to see how much closet space your room has. Probably so they can know how much junk they can store inside without rhyme or reason.

You should not, however, use your closet that way, at least not during a tour of the closet. Everything inside should be neat and orderly. If you have clothes or other items spilling out, a potential buyer might believe that their own mess won’t fit inside. The trick is to avoid presenting them with a mess in order to show off how much space there actually is.

5. Messy home = messy owners

You know that saying “never judge a book by its cover”? Forget that. Consider yourself judged. How you physically present yourself doesn’t matter nearly as much as how you physically present the house, seeing as it’s the house people are interested in buying.

A messy, cluttered house tells potential buyers that the owners have messy, cluttered minds. If you don’t even have time to wash that tower of plates on the kitchen counter, how is anyone supposed to believe that you have time to clean and maintain facilities within the rest of the house?