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Downsizing During Divorce

downsize during divorce

Nobody likes to think of divorcing another. It means the end of a relationship and probably starting all over again. It’s a terrible thing to have to go through but sometimes it’s the only option left. The thought of moving, downsizing and separating yours from theirs can be overwhelming. ClutterBGone has helped couples through the process – here’s a few things to watch for.

Emotions

Your emotions, and those of your partner, are raw and things can quickly boil to the top making a peaceful separation of items extremely difficult. Friends and family are typically not impartial. Keep your emotions in check anytime you are dealing with the physical aspects of a separation.

The new space

Typically a move after a divorce is a move to a smaller space, rarely is it a move to larger premises. Be ready for the move and be realistic about the space you are moving into. Downsize ahead of the move to prevent clutter and disorganization from day one in the new place. Bring with you only the things that you absolutely love and let them be the start of your new lifestyle.

What to keep

Decorate your home with a mix of old and new. downsize during divorceYou may not want to bring those wedding gifts you received from his/her family but a few pieces that you love from your old home will make you feel at home in your new place right away. You don’t need to keep everything that your spouse gave you either but try to be practical about what you need and what you want. This is where a third party can help.

Do you need help?

There’s a lot to do when going through a divorce and you don’t have to do it alone. You will need a lawyer and perhaps a realtor. If emotions are getting the better of you both then maybe a professional organizer can assist during this time. ClutterBGone is impartial, non judgemental and has helped other couples through this difficult process.

If you need help during divorce or any other life change just contact us here. We would be happy to have a chat.

Do You Have The Clutter Blues? #bellletstalk

Last Wednesday was Bell Canada’s Let’s Talk Day. It was the 8th year that Bell has raised awareness about mental health by getting people to talk and reducing the stigma associated with mental illness. It got me to thinking about the effect that clutter has on mental illness or vice versa.

Exactly how does clutter affect you?

Focus

Clutter rapidly accumulates and takes over your space. It draws your focus away from the things that are important in your life – family, down time, work, etc. It becomes almost impossible to relax with so much around you.

Anxiety and frustration

If you’re not able to find things when you need them you may feel the anxiety building up within yourself. Then you start the process of removing things from drawers and closets because you know ‘it’s in this house somewhere”.

Before you know it you have a bigger mess than when you started. You then get frustrated and feeling that things have gotten out of control.

That’s when it can lead to depression. And you’re not alone. I know. I’ve been there.

 

 

Shame

Do you avoid having people over because you’re ashamed of how your home looks? Do you hate the thought of a friend or family member dropping unexpectedly? This is very common with people who have clutter in their home. You may feel ashamed of the situation that you are in and tend to have less of a social life. You may feel isolated, which can be a direct result of depression and clutter.

Depression

Researchers have shown that clutter can be a symptom of depression and vice versa. When you can’t find something you won’t use it. You can’t exercise if you can’t find your gym stuff. You won’t cook or eat well if you can’t find your cooking utensils. The list goes on. You’re not exercising, you’re not eating well, and you’re not seeing people. It’s easy to see how people get depressed over clutter. We see it often.

What can you do about it?

Well, like Bell Canada’s slogan – talk to someone about it. I did. That’s a great start. Talk to your family and friends. I’ll bet they will want to lend a hand. And then you can take small steps that, by themselves, will become big accomplishments.

Get your partner or your kids to pitch in during clean up time. Make everyone in the house responsible for putting his or her things away immediately. When you put an item away, take an extra misplaced item with you. Take just one hour a week to work on an area of the house that causes you grief. Before you know it you’ll notice the differences and be pumped to continue.

Organizing just isn’t enough to make improvements. Why put things away neatly that you know are never going to be used? Downsize, pare down, donate, sell and then organize what is left. You’ll truly feel like a load has been lifted and you can almost immediately feel the anxiety being lifted and by association, the depression.

So you see, clutter has an immense effect on your mental well-being. Once you’re caught in the cycle it’s difficult to get out. Anxiety starts and then depression sets in. Contact me now to begin your healing process, de-clutter and organize your home with a professional organizer.

Talk about and enlist the help from others or a professional. I know you can do it.

10 Things That You Can Let Go Of That You Won’t Miss From Your Life

organized-family-room1

The longer I’ve worked as a Professional Organizer the less items I have retained in my life. As Albert Einstein once said – “Out of clutter, find simplicity”. In no way do I lead a minimalist lifestyle but I do find that every time I release myself of something I no longer use or have need for, I feel a sense of calm and organization in my life.

I have purged myself of quite a few things over the years and have not missed them at all. Here are a few items you may still have I’ll bet you will not miss too.

Anything you keep because it reminds you of someone.

Many of us keep items to remind us of a loved one that has passed on. That loved one will always be in your heart. But if you really need to keep something as a reminder consider a treasure box that can be hung on a wall to see the items each day rather than having items stored away in a box (probably in your basement).

Cookbooks

I used to keep several cookbooks in the cupboard over the stove. Now I keep just a few recipes that I enjoy in a binder. I also use a couple of apps on my electronic device and the Internet holds more recipes than a million cookbooks ever could.

Music libraries

A few people I know are music aficionados and I do understand their need to keep a library of vinyl (even though it is probably another fad) but beyond that we don’t truly need to keep CD’s anymore with digital music available in so many formats.

cd-collection

I was shocked (and secretly pleased) when my husband finally went through his library and donated a couple of hundred CD’s.

CD and DVD players

Speaking of which, how many CD and DVD players do you have in your home and how often do they get used?

Clothes

This is the probably the biggest challenge I face in many of the projects that we do. If an item of clothing is worn or damaged or doesn’t flatter you, get rid of it. So many people could use your hand me downs.

Shoes

Same with shoes. Shoes that look worn can make an entire outfit look horrible. If they are worn or uncomfortable get rid of them. Why keep them if you don’t like to wear them?

shoes

The money you spent is gone and keeping them isn’t going to bring that back.

School items from your past

I know you’re proud of that high school trophy you won over 20 years ago but when is the last time you took it out to show it off and brag to your friends? I thought so.

Small Appliances

Bread makers and ice cream makers were a pretty hip thing to have. The eighties called and said it was OK to donate them.

Exercise equipment

Only you know when you are going to get back into exercising and if you can’t say when that time is specifically, then it is time to sell those pieces that are taking up valuable real estate. You could use the money to help pay for a gym membership.

Anything with an expiration date

Go through your fridge and your cupboards and check your expiration dates. Those dates aren’t cast in stone but if enough time has gone by, especially if an item has been opened please toss them rather than risk your health. And if you have anything that is still good and you don’t use please donate to a food bank. They can always be used to feed someone less fortunate.

A very important rule to follow while you de-clutter your life : do not take responsibility for items that do not belong to you. Instead, lead by example and I’m sure the others will follow.

So there you have ten items that I think, for the most part, you won’t miss and will create more space, make your home less cluttered and perhaps reduce a bit of your stress. If you think you may need some help in the de-cluttering process we are just a call or email away.

 

 

 

 

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.

Get Organized and Enrich Your Family Life

There are numerous benefits to getting organized. When we work with our clients in getting their homes organized the greatest benefit we see is the effect it has on the entire family. In fact, in a recent U.S. Psychology report, women who described their home as cluttered were more depressed, had higher levels of stress and were more tired. How’s that for a negative impact of clutter?

Reduced Conflicts

How many arguments have you had with your significant other over items that are lost, misplaced or maybe even thrown out? argumentSometimes clutter can cause anxiety in one person that turns into something said to the other that is hurtful. If you have a cluttered home you are also less likely to invite friends or family over due to embarrassment which reduces your social life.

 

Financial Stress

Disorganized people commonly misplace bills or invoices that come in the mail or think they will “get to them later” if received via email. Later never comes and you end up paying interest or late fees or even worse your credit score is affected. If you are hoping to buy your first home or move up in the housing market this can have negative affect on your interest rate or ability to qualify for a mortgage. Arguments over money are the leading causes of marital strife.

Quality Time

Add up all the time you spend looking for items and now try to visualize what you will do with all that extra time. quality timeHaving an organized home gives you the down time you need to relax or to spend with your spouse or kids. Improving and increasing your quality time will also reduce your stress.

Eat Better

The same U.S. Psychology report referenced above noted that organized people eat better. You are more likely to grab a cookie or chocolate bar or some other comfort food if you are in a disorganized space. You just won’t take the time to look for something healthier. And if you are eating better you will more than likely lose some weight if that is one of your goals!

Zzzzz

All of the above has an impact on your sleep. With less stress, an improved relationship and healthier eating you are going to get a more relaxed, restful sleep at night. organized bedroomThose that are disorganized also tend to perform tasks like paying bills and responding to emails right up until bedtime taking to bed a mind that is still racing.

 

Are you ready to get organized and improve your mental and physical health? Find out how ClutterBGone can help you de clutter, get organized and reduce your stress. Click here to contact us.

A Case Study of Motivation For Getting Organized and Downsizing

Sidebar_foyerI’ve started a new organizing and de-cluttering project with a wonderful couple in their mid to late sixties. They called me because the state of their home is straining their relationship of 40 years.    It’s not at all unusual that disorganization and clutter in a household can cause stress and tension between couples no matter how long they have been together.

When I first drove up to their home in an older, established neighbourhood I noticed that there were some minor repairs and maintenance needed to the exterior of the house.  Not at all uncommon for an older couple.  It can become increasingly difficult to maintain a home if there are physical restrictions or limitations those individuals may be challenged with.

The initial consultation

Upon entering their 4 bedroom home it presented as very well kept, tidy and clean.  During our initial consultation and needs assessment we all sat in the living room as I jotted down information, inquired about any health issues I would need to be aware of and went through my in depth assessment in order to be able to understand how they function within their home and what their requirements and concerns were.

It was not too long into the consult when it became evident that the wife was not at all pleased with the state of certain rooms in the house and expressed a significant amount of blame and anger with her husband. She was extremely embarrassed to have anyone over to her home, including myself, and was very concerned about what her neighbours might think.  This is fairly common as there seems to be unfortunate negative connotation to being disorganized and bringing in the “big guns”.  Why not bring in a professional if your home is not functioning as well as it should? The thing is the majority of homes I work in are not in the state of clutter that you see on those television shows about hoarders. In fact, when you first walk into the homes we work in most of the disorganization is hidden behind doors and cabinets and not necessarily in plain view.

Tension in relationships

In any event, with these clients the tension was palpable and there were at times some harsh glances between husband and wife.  Mr. X was quite soft spoken and although not in denial about his part in the disorganization, he used humour as a defense to the allegations and stress expressed by his wife while also acknowledging her concerns. At this point I had not taken a tour of the home or seen the clutter that was disrupting their relationship and their life.  Although there was a great deal of tension between them it was also very clear that they loved each other dearly and that Mr. X was willing to do whatever was necessary to make things better both in their home and in their relationship.

In my next post I’ll continue with this story of motivation, support and facilitating change with these great people.

Spring Cleaning For Your Closets

Cluttered bedroom that needs organization

Cluttered bedroom that needs organization

 

It’s National Clean Out Your Closet Week so what better time than now to talk about Spring cleaning for your master bedroom and closet.

The master bedroom is supposed to be a warm, serene and inviting oasis for you after a crazy day in these very busy times.  It should be a place where you want to relax and get a restful sleep after a long day.  However time and time again when I get called in to assist clients with their organizing projects the bedroom is a clutter trap of stress and confusion.

For many homes I’m invited into the master bedroom has piles of clothes on the bed and floor, children and dog toys amongst them and piles of folded laundry ready to be put away but alas, they just don’t fit into the dressers.  Various receipts, newspapers and magazines are often found under beds and stuffed into side tables.  Photos, some in frames, many not, sit on top of any horizontal surface available, either displayed or waiting to be displayed when time permits (which is one of many projects waiting to get started or completed). Jewellery often litters the tops of bureaus and dressers, dust littering almost every surface simply because there is really no way to clean properly when there is so much clutter.  Closets are overflowing with clothing on the floor, toppling off shelves and a mix of accessories strewn about. Clients are stressed and I know I can transform their space.

Just walking into a bedroom like this can raise your blood pressure, tighten the muscles in your body and cause you stress you may not even be aware of.  Your plan for an oasis has turned into a cluttered cave and your hope for calm and serenity seems impossible. But there’s good news!  Spring is a perfect time of year to get your bedroom and closets in order. So how do you begin to transform this cluttered cave into a calm, peaceful and efficient room?

How do you start?

We start by clearing the bed to give us a large staging area.  We go through the piles of items of the floor and sort them into what does and doesn’t belong in the master bedroom.  Those items that don’t belong are immediately placed in an empty bin or laundry basket to be transported to its proper location afterwards (whether it is somewhere else in your home or in the trash). We go about the room clearing the horizontal surfaces and sorting like items with like items.  All pieces of paper are gathered and placed into a container for further sorting down the road.  All jewellery is contained which will be sorted as well.  Then we tackle the closet.

Rules to live by

I’m sure that countless times you’ve said “I’ve got so many clothes and nothing to wear”.  Many people have “fat” clothes, “skinny” clothes, “work around the house clothes”, etc. all piled into their closets. As far as I’m concerned, the rules to live by are if you don’t wear it, can’t wear it or haven’t worn it in two years, it’s time to go. If it really doesn’t make you feel good when you wear it, it’s time to go.  If you don’t like the colour or the feel of the fabric, donate it. If it’s damaged, worn or torn, it’s trash. But alas, I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Work in sections

Rather than completely emptying your closet in one fell swoop, do it in sections because otherwise you will likely run out of room and feel completely overwhelmed.

Start with the closet floor first, pulling everything out and then sorting like items with like items and compiling piles of items on your bed.  You then take a good hard look at each item in each pile and decide whether it will be donated, its trash or it’s a keeper, keeping in mind the rules to live by as noted above.

Sorting items by type, you’ll compile slacks, shirts, coats, etc. and then you will further sort items by colour and style.  Once you have gone through this process with everything in your closet and your dressers, you will end up with the items that are essential to your wardrobe and that now need to be housed back in your closet or dressers. This is not a one hour project.  You do need to set aside a few hours of your own time. It may feel a little painful at first, but trust me….Once you have done a complete reorganization and been diligent about it you likely won’t have to do it again.

Reloading

The next step is hanging the clothes back in your closet.  Remember that game Concentration….all you have to do is match items with like items and you can maintain your closet with very little effort.  Arrange clothes back on your closet within each category, and then within each category arrange by colour and hang from light to dark. This game of Concentration also applies to your dressers.  I typically reload drawers if possible from head to toe in descending order.  This means that what you wear on the top of your body typically goes in the top drawers of the dresser but there are times when this process needs to be adjusted depending on the size of your drawers and the volume of items you have.

If you are struggling with how to store certain items here’s a few ideas to get you going.  Neckties can go on racks or hooked hangers.  Belts can go on hooks or hangers or can even be placed in a decorative bin.  Scarves can be folded and placed in bins. Handbags can go on shelves or in a large tote on the bottom of your closet.  Smaller purses and clutches can go in a small basket or bin. Clothing that is not quite dirty, but not quite clean and you may want to wear again the next day can be positioned on a hook on the inside of your closet door.

Lastly, remember that your master bedroom closet and dressers should not be an area for general storage unless absolutely necessary.  It should not be a hidden space where you barely open the doors.  It should be a space where, within 30 seconds of opening the door you can put your hands on whatever it is you are looking for.

If you need help with project, don’t be afraid to ask.  It can be daunting and that’s why professional organizers exist. We bring skills and expertise to the table, can assess your needs, give tailored solutions, practical techniques, coaching and do most of the physical work for you.

Organization does matter. Creating calm out of chaos is what we do best!

Downsizing: Tips To Be A Minimalist In Your Home

Minimalist home organizationMinimalism.  Living more simply. Streamlining.

We hear these words and statements more often now, especially because so many people are downsizing their spaces.  I work each week with space-challenged clients to solve their organizing problems and I think that makes me somewhat of an expert on the issue.

Of course there are many advantages to being a minimalist.  Less stress, more time (less cleaning), less frustration, and no need to find a home for the stuff you really don’t need.

You can easily downsize with style by identifying your priorities and with effective use of accessories, lighting, artwork and colour.

Think about secret spaces for extra storage.  Hollow architectural columns are perfect so you can add shelves or a door on one side.

For flexibility when downsizing stick with a bed that doesn’t have a foot board. Transform end tables into coffee tables by simply cutting down the legs.

And don’t forget to de-clutter clear surfaces and have a place for everything.

This cool Infographic below, courtesy of The Picket Fence, is a visual look at minimalism.

 

Minimalism

Minimalism

Helping Older Adults & Seniors Downsize

downsizingEvery year thousands of older adults and seniors face the decision of whether to downsize to smaller living accommodations or to stay in their existing homes.  For some the decision to downsize is made for them due to serious illness or perhaps the death of a loved one.  Sometimes the comfort and safety of people comes into play. But regardless of the reason, the upheaval and relocation can be traumatic.  My experience in this industry has clearly indicated that it is even more so for seniors.

I received a call from a gentleman whose mother was living alone and had recently injured her leg falling over piles of newspapers that she had collected.  He was concerned for her health and safety due to the amount of belongings and clutter that she had accumulated.  He wanted to move her into a condominium and was looking for assistance in helping to sort through a lifetime of her possessions.

Safety First

Safety is usually the first thought that comes into mind when considering downsizing.  Home location and its construction are very important issue to consider.  A few questions you may want to ask yourself are: (i) is the home easy to get around in? (ii) can the maintenance of the home be easily managed by the occupant? (iii) how close is the home to local shopping centres and banks?

Limitations regarding the physical abilities of the people in the home are also relevant and need to be considered.  Can basic personal hygiene be handled?  What about manoeuvrability in and out of the bathtub or shower?  What about memory issues as it relates to safety?  Leaving a burner lit on the stove or a pot boiling over can be a potentially dangerous situation.

Let the idea of downsizing marinate.

If you know an older adult or senior who should consider downsizing, it’s best that you introduce them to the idea slowly.  Many well-meaning family members may push too hard resulting in more resistance.   Sometimes it’s helpful to suggest  to your parents that they may wish to make the decision of moving to a smaller home when they still can.  Sometimes illness or injury, like that of my client, ends up making the decision for you and you are then forced to move when perhaps you don’t feel ready.

Emotions play a role.

Often times adult children don’t play an active role in the downsizing process due to other family and work obligations.  The stress and tension can be very high for all members of the family and often times it’s best to call and hire an experienced professional organizer to assist and make the process run smoothly and without trauma. In addition, adult children often feel a lot of turmoil when long time family possessions are sorted and pared down.  I have personally seen the upheaval of emotions cause conflicts among family when these conflicts could easily have been minimized by initiating a few simple organizing and downsizing strategies to be prepared.

For me, working with older adults and seniors is one of the most rewarding aspects of my work.  I don’t just work for my clients, but with them, side by side, hands on coaching, motivating and encouraging.   Working collaboratively I have helped clients make decisions on what to keep, what to pass on to family or others, and what to be discarded.

Senior couple

One way I like to encourage and motivate my clients is to suggest that the preparation of a move to a smaller home is the first step of a fresh start, a new chapter in their lives and perhaps an even greater adventure!  Preparation is key to a successful downsize so that precious memories can still be treasured while streamlining for a simpler and more efficient lifestyle.

Does Clutter Equal Stress?

How many times have you tried to de-clutter and get organized only to feel tremendous stress and frustration because you just don’t know what to do with a particular object? It could be you had planned on tidying up a particular space in your home only to find that there are a lot of objects for which there is no home.  You pick it up, consider it, and then put it back down because you just don’t know where to put it.  You’re afraid that if you put it away somewhere, you might not remember where it is the next time you need it.  So, you simply leave it there and move on to the next item.  This process gets repeated over and over again, expending time and energy and yet no progress is made.   Frustrating? Stressful? You bet!

To overcome this obstacle think in terms of categories.  We all have categories of items in our homes or offices.  We may have a category for tools, toys, office supplies, etc.  Think about the item you have in your hand and how it is used and then place it with that particular category of items.  If there is no category you will need to create one.  As long as items have homes (a place to live) then you’ll know where you need to go to retrieve it and where to return it. When you think “clutter” think “categories”.