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6 Things Professional Organizers Want You To Know

I have been a Professional Organizer for several years I’m often asked a lot of different questions about organizing and down sizing. There are a few things that I seldom get asked that I think you should know.

The System

When you hire a professional organizer you are not only hiring somebody who will help you de-clutter and get organized but you are hiring a professional who will leave you with a system to maintain your new found space after they have left. It is up to you of course to keep things in check but we just don’t come in, do the work and leave you.

The Investment

Every client situation is unique and your investment in a project will reflect that.

Cost vs benefit

A professional organizer is there to work with you and stay within a budget that works for you. You can be as hands on or as hands off as you want to be during the process enabling you to minimize the hours and get really involved. If your budget is really tight then start with an area that causes you the most concern and leave the rest to another time.

Removing the Items

A professional organizer has a large resource list of charities and re-sale stores in your area where you can dispose of, donate or consign your goods to. You may have your own favourite charities that you wish to make donations to or may have valuable pieces that can be sold to a re-sale store or place on consignment. We are not able to take anything out of your home ourselves but can certainly arrange for it on your behalf.

Storage Containers That Are Required

In many jobs there are storage containers or systems that are needed.

plastic-storage-containers

A few professional organizers carry an inventory of these so they are readily available to get the job completed as quickly as possible. These are normally offered to our clients at the same cost, or less, as at your local store. If there are special items or systems required you have the option to purchase these yourselves or have us do it on your behalf. There will normally be a fee for personal shopping but it will be much less than the hourly rate for working in your home.

Confidence In Who You Hire

Professional organizers in Canada will belong to the Professional Organizers of Canada (POC) association.POC logo

This group is a registered national association that represents professional organizers and provides the training to us all. Members of the POC are required to abide by its code of conduct. During your initial consultation ask if the organizer you speak to is a member of the POC and ask them where they received their training. Make sure any organizer that you hire is bonded and insured in case of any mishaps in the home. Lastly, ask for and check the references that are given to ensure that the person you hire is competent and experienced.

Be Comfortable In Who You Hire

Above all you need to feel comfortable with who you hire. Treat the initial telephone consultation as an interview where you are doing the interviewing. Ask as many questions as you want and get that comfortable feeling with the person that will be coming into your home or office.

ClutterBGone has serviced many clients throughout the GTA and is a member of the POC with all lead staff carrying business liability insurance. If you are looking to downsize, get organized or need help with clutter contact us here.

 

Is Technology Preventing You From Staying Organized?

Technology has come a long way and I sometimes feel as my parents used to feel in not completely understanding or being able to stay caught up with the new technologies that are constantly introduced. In some ways I don’t care if I stay current. In fact, I often lament to whoever will listen that technology is pushing us apart from each other. It got me to thinking – Is technology preventing you from keeping organized?

Organize your time yourself, don’t let email organize it for you

“Snail mail” seems to have become something that is a vehicle for junk mail these days. We used to eagerly await the arrival of the mailman to our front door or go to the mailbox once a day to receive our bills, letters and other important documents. We knew what time to expect the mail and would plan around it and once it arrived we made the time to open the mail and react accordingly.

email

Now we receive most of our mail electronically and it comes in constantly. It’s almost impossible not to reach for the phone or computer when you hear that “ding” that tells you that mail has arrived. Just like today’s snail mail I’ll bet a lot of your email is junk, both at home and at work.

Unless you are expecting something very important to come through, try turning your notifications off and checking email once an hour or so. If you are like a lot of folks you receive a lot of emails from the same address that you never open. Mark these as junk and have them sent directly to your junk folder if you can’t unsubscribe so you aren’t wasting time deleting them each time they arrive.

Assign time for electronic leisure activities

With most newspapers, books and magazines now available in electronic formats a lot of us are reading on our computers, pads and other hand held devices. Video games have become extremely addictive with their life like graphics and have become as large an industry as the movies.

Unless we assign a time to spend on our devices it is easy to get caught up in a game or article and before long you’re behind in other things. Assign a time for your electronic leisure time and stick to it. Get your exercise, do your chores or spend time with family. Organize your time for the important things in life.

Back to basics with planners

Like you, I have a phone that does it all. It holds my music, takes pictures, connects me to the Internet and yes, it even receives and makes phone calls.

It also has a planner but I prefer a manual planner that I can write in for several reasons. I have yet to see a decent electronic planner that shows me the whole week with any great detail. I also like to write in detailed notes in my planner and check items off once they are completed giving me a sense of accomplishment.

Day planner

I can have my to do list, my items to follow up, my urgent items and my goals all in one place. And more importantly my manual planner will never run out of power so it is always accessible. Electronic planners are good but the old fashioned manual ones keep me better organized for the week.

So you think you can multitask

Even before technology became what it is, our brain was not able to fully focus on two things at the same time. A lot of people believe they can now do just that with today’s technology but not so.

Technology has changed, our brain has not. We can get more than one thing done at a time quantity wise, but it is proven that quality suffers. When working on a project, organize your time to focus on one task and give it your all for a better result.

Technology has helped you in so many ways but it can also eat a lot of your time and distract you from what needs to be done. Organize your time so you control the technology, not the other way around. Let me know how you make out.

5 Signs That Your Parents Are Ready To Downsize

We all go through the stages of home ownership in our lives. First we rent, then we buy our first home, then we move into a larger home when we have a family and finally we downsize as we grow older.

Do your parents need some help in making this life changing decision? Here are 5 signs that they may be ready to downsize into something more manageable.

Are they having difficulty with the current upkeep?

Your parents want, and need, their independence. But sometimes pride gets in the way in refusing to downsize and acknowledge that they just can’t accomplish what they used to. The family home was just that – a family home. Purchased quite a while ago when there were children in the house. All of the children have moved out and have started their own families and your parents are still in the same house.

As the home gets older things start to need maintenance and repair resulting in expense or your parents reaching their physical limitations. If you see them struggling to maintain the home or property or are keeping it for sentimental reasons, it’s probably a good time to have a gentle discussion centered around moving.

Are they having financial issues?

Once you stop working you become dependant on your own savings and/or government assistance. It’s nice to know that your prescription costs are covered by the government when you reach the age of 65 and doctors visits are also covered. However not everything is 100% covered and let’s face it, as we get older we can normally expect to start dishing out for medical expenses not covered.

elderly_finances

Entertainment costs, vacations and the home expenses start to eat away at savings. Many of the older generation believe in paying off the mortgage as soon as possible and using the value of the home towards their retirement.

Well, perhaps financial challenges are now coming to play and the equity in their home can be used to help them in their later years. They don’t have to be further away just because they sell their home. Many parents are now moving in with their adult children. Finally! Some revenge!

Are they having difficulty finding things?

When you visit your parents and you ask to see a family picture or a memento that you know they have, do they have difficulty in finding it or can’t locate it at all?

I’m not talking about the medical diagnosis of dementia here, just not being able to find something because of all the stuff your parents have in the home. It’s nice to be surrounded by items from the past but not if they are packed away because of the volume of items in the house.

I’ve suggested to many families that they create a Memory Box with the most important photos and remembrances and hang it on a wall for all to see. Just the sight of these items will bring back a lot of memories to cherish. If your parents are keeping a home just because they can’t fit everything they currently have into smaller quarters it is time to talk about downsizing and reorganization.

Do you feel your parents are not safe in their home?

As your parents age they may not be able to get around like they used to and perhaps don’t have the reflexes that they once had. Things they could easily manoeuvre around before or step over may now be a trip and fall hazard.

Elderly tripping cartoon

Remember that old television commercial with the lady who fell? – “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”. If you feel your parents safety is being compromised by having too much stuff in the house, it is time to discuss downsizing.

Are they looking for a little freedom in their lives?

Perhaps your parents secretly want to buy that motor home or want to leave the cold for a couple of months in the winter. They feel guilty about spending that kind of money or feel guilty about being away from the kids or the grandchildren. They’ve probably worked hard most of their lives and they deserve to do these things while they still can. Let them know that they have plenty of time to visit in the warmer months and that by downsizing they will have the funds to enjoy themselves.

Downsizing may not be right for everyone but many of our parents are going to do it. Look for the signs and have the gentle conversation with them. It is of course their decision, but downsizing could have a very positive impact on their lives.

ClutterBGone has assisted many families with this life transitions and would be pleased to assist you as well. Contact us here for more information or to have any questions answered.

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.

7 Reasons to De-Clutter & Let Go

When we talk about getting organized or de-cluttering your life, we generally speak about donating, repurposing, selling or trashing items. Today I wanted to speak to you about the reasons to let go of items, no matter how you actually do it.

Be clutter free

Many of us want that clutter free home where we can easily find things, and not be ashamed to have family and friends over. Did you know that over 1 million North Americans suffer from chronic hoarding? It is more prevalent in older people and here is a surprise – it is more common among men than it is women! Start the process now and see how much time you save and how you will love having people over.

Save time

Last time I checked, the average person spent just under one hour per day looking for items. That is the average. time managementDisorganized people are going to spend even more time looking for things. Homes have gotten bigger today than they were decades ago and therefore there is more space to keep stuff and more space to look through. There is even a tendency to fill spaces with “stuff” even when those items are not a necessity. Get that time back by reducing the items you needlessly have to sift through.

Less House Work

Does anyone enjoy housework and want more of it to do? I’m thinking not. Clutter creates more items to move when dusting and attracts more dust by itself. Clutter also attracts more clutter. Think about it. When passing a cluttered area you are more likely to set something else down when you see something already there.

More clutter, more items to move, more cleaning required. A cycle begins.

Would you like more money?

Saving-Money_1A US study a few years ago indicated that over 20% of people admitted to paying bills late because they lost the bill. Interest charges and late payment fees apply as well. Being organized will reduce these fees thus saving you money.

Non-use

My rule of thumb is if you haven’t used an item for a year you need to take a serious look at why you have it. Perhaps it was purchased with good intentions but it just never got used. Maybe you know somebody that could use it or if it has value perhaps you could sell it and recoup something. Why not turn your clutter into cash?

Did It Stop Working?

Are you seriously ever going to get around to fixing or taking an item and getting it fixed? How long has it been sitting there? Is it worth getting fixed? Come to grips with the fact that it does not work and you just are not going to get it fixed.

Support Your Local Charities

Someone else can always use the item that you are not using and there are many worthwhile charities in your area that can make use of the item to help others.

hands holding letters spelling words

Be a hero and help others by donating your unused items.

These are just several of many good reasons to pare down your belongings and reduce clutter in your home.

We at ClutterBGone have helped many clients make the tough decisions and can help you too. Contact us to learn more about how we save you time and money.

5 Key Benefits of Moving To A Condominium

Home Organizing Secondary Page PhotoAs many of us age we find that we’re looking at condominiums as an alternative to owning a larger home or as an alternative to moving to a seniors’ residence.

Condominiums are taking a bigger piece of the real estate pie recently, both with the young and the “not so young”. If you are in this particular category here are some key benefits to condominium ownership that you may or may not have thought of.

Less maintenance

There will be a lot less maintenance owning a condo, not only on the outside but the inside as well. No more grass to cut and trim, no more driveways to shovel and no more repairs to the furnace, siding or other unexpected expenses that come up.

There is much less maintenance on the inside as well due to decreased living space to clean or to repaint. If you love to tend a garden many condos now have roof top garden plots for you to grow your own vegetables or herbs or just to plant your favourite flowers.

Location

Many of us have left the hustle and bustle of the city and moved to a quieter area with a bit of property situated on a bit more than a postage sized lot. As we get older we appreciate being closer to theatres, restaurants and excellent health care. Most condos are now being built in the city within a short distance to all of these must have conveniences. Condos are being built in all areas of the major cities, not just in the downtown areas where all the action (noise) is.

Amenities

How would you like to have a swimming pool, movie theatre, billiards’ room, terrace, entertainment room and gym all in your home? Well, all of these are at your disposal with most of today’s modern condos. If you are worried about not having room for a large group, fear not. Most condos have rooms that you can book for large groups to have private dinners or parties that even have their own kitchens.

So if you love to cook for a large family or gathering of friends, don’t worry about that not being an option….in the new condos it is!

Resale value

It is no surprise that real estate values have gone through the roof over the last several years. What is surprising is that condos are at the top of the list for number of units sold and increase in value over the last year.

Most people just cannot afford a detached home these days and are turning to condos to get their foot into the real estate market.

Affordability

As stated above, most homes have soared in value and selling your current home and purchasing a condo can provide an influx of cash to be added to your current retirement savings. The average detached home price in the city of Toronto recently hit $1 million. The average condo price is now about $400K. That leaves a lot of equity that can be added to your retirement savings.

If you are thinking of downsizing and purchasing a condominium make sure you not only enlist the help of a trusted real estate agent but also a trusted and insured professional organizer to help you with the critical decisions that are required in any downsizing and organizing project and make your move a smooth transition for years to come!

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.