Assess your mess!! 
Friday, April 24, 2009, 07:27 PM
I learned an important on-the-job lesson this week: it's important to step back every once in a while and assess where you're at, organizationally speaking. We're not focused on organizing 24/7, so it's easy to lose track of which organizational systems are working and which ones aren't.

Here's what I suggest...

Grab a pad and a pen and take a walk through your house. Make notes for each room. Give yourself credit for what's working ("I love my backpack holder. The kids don't mind using it, and it gets the backpacks off the floor".) Then, list what's not working. (1. There's a pile of unused tote bags clogging the corner of my closet. Time to purge. 2. I never liked that white board calendar. Time to toss it), etc., etc.

Next, make a game plan. First, make a list of the tasks you need to complete for each room. Second, schedule time in your calendar to tackle these tasks, one at a time.

Finally, don't be shy about dismantling systems that no longer work. Be honest, and accept that it's time to move on. Organization is a process, so there's nothing wrong with taking stock and making some changes.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009, 04:17 PM
It sounds like a no-brainer. When the weather starts to get warmer, it's time to put away the heavy sweaters and corduroys and take out the spring clothing. Then why does it seem like such a pain in the neck?!

It all comes down to volume and storage. How much clothing do you have? Do you have the proper storage?

When it comes to the amount of clothing you have, it's time to take stock. What REALLY fits? What's flattering? What's still in style? Now's the opportunity to make some decisions and clear out the clutter. My trick? I keep a handled shopping bag in the back of my closet. Every time I try something on and realize I don't like it or don't fit into it I toss it in the bag. When the bag's full I toss it in the car and drive to the nearest clothing collection site.

Once you've decluttered, it's time to assess your storage. What are your needs? People who wear a lot of dressy clothing need more hanging space and fewer drawers and shelves. For those who wear jeans & khakis every day, the opposite is usually true.

Finally, where do you keep your out-of-season clothing. If you're lucky enough to have a large, well-appointed walk-in closet, you may just have to shift items around a bit. If you have a smaller closet, you may have to put the winter stuff away completely (I'm one of these people!) I swear by my underbed boxes on wheels. I keep 2 large ones under my bed. Right now they're loaded up with the warm weather stuff. Very shortly I'll be switching out the contents.

It's all about accessibility, and those heavy sweaters are starting to get in my way! I'm looking forward to putting them away and organizing my spring clothing.

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Want to get organized? Pretend You Are Moving (or...actually move!) 
Saturday, March 7, 2009, 10:04 AM
Recently, I seem to be speaking to a lot of people who are moving. Some of the moves are the regular kind, caused by regular life changes: more room needed, less room needed, changing marital status, etc. Others are definitely the result of the recession. But regardless of the reason for moving, the need to declutter is the same. The real estate market is tough, and a cluttered, disorganized house is just not going to cut it.

When a house goes on the market it needs to be "lean and mean". Flat surfaces need to be clear, and personal items kept to a minimum. Closets need to be clear and orderly with nothing on the floor. Storage spaces (garage, basement, attic) need to be as orderly as possible with items in containers and stowed away on shelves.

In a way it's a blessing. It provides an incredible opportunity to assess what you're keeping and why. Plus, why pay movers to transport boxes full of junk?

In fact, even if you're not moving it can be helpful to put yourself in the moving mindset. If I had to move, could I put my house on the market? If not, what would I have to do to get it ready? What are those mystery boxes in my basement, and do I want to continue to live with them?

Why wait until you're ready to leave your house to make it livable?

The fact is, even if you're planning to be in your home for a long time it can still be liberating to lose the clutter. Then you can show off your home to friends and family instead of realtors and prospective buyers.

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Are you "CD" or "SD"? 
Sunday, January 18, 2009, 09:48 PM
In the organizing industry, we make a distinction between "Chronically Disorganized" (CD) clients and
"Situationally Disorganized" (SD) clients.

CD clients are those who have a history of disorganization. These clients have tried to get organized, but have not found success. Disorganization affects their quality of life and they're generally not hopeful that their situation will change in the future.

SD clients are disorganized because of a situation in their life, such as birth, death, a move, a renovation, etc. Working with SD clients is a finite process. They simply need an extra set of hands and a little motivation and they're off and running.

Obviously, working with a CD client is vastly different than working with an SD client. When working with a CD client, the process needs to slow down to allow the client the time to work through and express their feelings.

Do you recognize yourself in either of these definitions? Want to find out more? Write to me or give me a call...

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During the Economic Crisis, Decluttering Becomes a Humanitarian Act 
Sunday, November 2, 2008, 08:34 AM
Just this weekend alone, I've read two articles about charitable organizations that are in serious trouble. Both the Community FoodBank of New Jersey and the Volunteer Management Center have stated that donations of money and goods are way down, and their programs are being impacted.

If you're sitting in a home filled with clutter, how can you help?

I think the most important first step is to sit down and do some soul searching. Is your clutter the result of compulsive shopping? If so, try cutting back on your shopping trips and donating the money you would have spent in the stores.

Is your home filled with useless gifts you've received from family and friends? Ask your loved ones to stop the gift giving and write a check to a charitable organization.

Is your kitchen filled with cans and boxes of food you're not using? Collect all that food and get it to a collection site (see Last week a food pantry in Paterson hung a sign that read" Closed Today-No Food" as hungry people, including children and the elderly, waited in line.

Overall, think about the waste in your life. Wasted money. Wasted time. Wasted space. Wasted energy. We all have it. Then think about how you can redirect yourself. In the end, maybe helping someone else is the motivation you need.

NOTE: The FoodBank also has a "wish list" of items for their facility and clients, including children's new winter clothing, coats, hats, scarves, gloves, and school supplies. Call Donna at 908-355-3663, ext. 222 for more information.

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