Monday, March 28, 2011

Christopher Lowell's Hoarder Profile 2

I recently read Christopher Lowell's Seven Layers of Organization. He gives eight profiles of people who are hoarders in some way or to some degree. Does this synoposis describe you?

Profile 2: Appropriate Appropiator:

Do people tend to give you stuff? Perhaps it's because you've never said no to anything in the past? Do people think you are a collector of things because you have knick nacks all over your house? You figure that if someone is offering something to you, you have to say yes? You don't. Do not feel like you have to keep or display something people give you - especially if it's not your taste. Not many people actually look around your home to see if you are displaying that picture frame they gave you for your birthday. And if they do - so what. Remember that it's YOUR home, not theirs.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Christopher Lowells' Profiles of Organizers

I recently read Christopher Lowell's Seven Layers of Organization. He gives eight profiles of people who are hoarders in some way or to some degree. My next several posts will give a synoposis of those profiles - will any of them describe you?

Profile 1: Guilty Glutton:

A loved one dies or moves into a retirement center and you inherit their belongings. The problem is that you are attached to the items because of who that person was/is, but do not care for the items yourself. Not your style, don't have the space, etc. Here's how to regain your home back:

1. Go through the items to see if there is anything that can be repurposed. A piece of furniture that can be repainted to match your decor better. A lamp that would look great in your home if it had a different shade. Would that sofa or chair be perfect if it were recovered?

2. For those items that you really don't have an attachment to - offer them to your friends and family who loved the person. They may appreciate having an article to remember the person by. Notice I said "offer". Do not assume people would like anything. Do not be offended if they decline. Be sure they are aware that they can say no without hurting anyone's feelings. While the term "One man's junk is another man's treasure" is often true, sometimes junk is really just junk.

3. For what's left - donate it or sell it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Organized Way to Spring Cleaning

Welcome Spring! It's so good to see you! With spring, comes...spring cleaning (Please don't stop reading here!).

There are good ways to "spring clean" and there are bad ways. Here are some tips that will help you clean and organize your home:

  • Deep clean only. Lots of people feel the need to do their regular chores that they do every day or week as a part of their spring cleaning. RESIST the urge! Just plan on doing your deep cleaning...things you don't do on a weekly or monthly basis. 
  • Plan on organizing as being the number one thing that "spring cleaning" means. Most people think of cleaning blinds, washing drapes, dusting ceiling fans, etc. And yes, spring cleaning includes those. But, if you only do those things, your home will still feel like it needs a spring cleaning after you've done the spring cleaning. Make sure to tackle the decluttering and organizing before you get out the cleaners and rags.
  • Plan for spring cleaning to take 1-2 weeks. Yes, I know it sounds like a lot. And overwhelming. But, if you do one room (or half of a room) each day, you'll be able to get the whole house (and maybe the attic, garage, or basement) done.
  • Don't be afraid of the trash can. Be picky with the items in your home. Are they practical? Do you use them? Do you think they are beautiful? Does it complicate or simplify your life? Throw away (donate, recycle, give away, etc) what you really don't need, like, or want. 
  • Don't overwhelm yourself. Keep your perspective as you go about spring cleaning: Is it really a big deal if you don't get your baseboards washed? No. It's not. Unless there is mold growing on them. 
  • Prioritize what's the most important to you...write it down! Make a list of everything that you want to organize, declutter, and clean. Number those things, so you can make sure to do what's most important to you. There are loads of already made checklists on the internet that you can search for, download, and make your own. Be sure to save it on your computer so next year this step is already done for you and all you have to do is tweak it. If your list feels too overwhelming...split it up. Create a "fall cleaning" list and a "spring cleaning" list. There's no rule that says it all has to be done in one season.
  • For all you moms out there - Consider hiring some help if you have young kids (either with the kids or with the cleaning/organizing). Your money may be well spent if you can knock out your cleaning in half the time that it would take you with the kids in the house. Short on cash? Swap sitting with a friend. For those with older kids - GIVE THEM LOTS TO DO!! They need to know that they are a part of the family and are expected to help out around the house.
  • Lastly - it's always more fun to spring clean with music on (loud), windows open, fresh flowers on a table, a fun drink or snack, and a cute outfit or apron on. So, get in the spring spirit and enjoy the tasks!

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    The First Step to Almost Any Organizing Project Is...

    Take it all out. I was recently working with a client on organizing her bathroom closet. She was surprised with I started taking everything out of it. She then said, "I keep forgetting that's a good first step."

    So, remember - when you start to organize something, the first step will almost always be to take it all out. Organizing always starts with chaos and mess before the beauty and organization comes.

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    Organizing Inside Your Fridge

    Here are the steps to organizing your refrigerator:

    Step 1: Take everything out. Be sure you have about an hour for this project. This is not one of those that you want to start and not finish.

    Step 2: Toss any old food, food you won't eat, food that's expired beyond your comfort level, etc.

    Step 3: Wipe the shelves and drawers with soap and water.

    Step 4: Add the food back, one type at a time. Put all your condiments in. All the cheese in. All the produce in. You get the picture.

    * Be wary of putting milk in the drawer. When opening the fridge so often, it's the first place that starts to lose temperature. Thus making your milk warmer and making your fridge work harder (spending more energy, which equals more of your money to the power company) to keep it cool.
    Step 5: Maintenance. Once a week, go through the fridge and toss any old food, clean up any spills, and quickly re-sort and re-organize items to their original placement. This is a crucial step in keeping the fridge organized.

    • If you have an extra drawer, use it as your defrost drawer. Any meats that you take from the freezer to defrost or meat you just bought from the store can sit in there without worrying about the meat leaking on any other foods. 

    • Process your produce when you get home from a grocery store trip. I can't tell you how nice it is to have my broccoli already washed and cut when I need it. Do this only if you know when the produce will be cooked and what you are using it for (you don't want to cut squash and have it get slimy before you use it). 

    •  If you have a side-by-side, put your more frequently used items on eye level. 
    • Lazy susans can be a great tool. If you're finding that some items keep hanging out in the back of the fridge, get a Lazy Susan so you can access them better. 

      Thursday, March 10, 2011

      10 in 10 on the 10th

      It's that time again! Here are ten things you can do when you have an extra ten minutes:

      1. Clean your stovetop.
      2. Put the oven on self clean.
      3. Plan as many meals as you have time for.
      4. Check to see if all your mechanical pencils have graphite. If not, put some in.
      5. Make a cleaning to-do list. Then be excited that you don't have to do anything on the list right now.
      6. Clean one window or glass door.
      7. Clean out your medicine cabinet.
      8. Check sports scores. Either because you want to or because it’s good water cooler talk.
      9. Put away any CD’s that are milling about.
      10. Clean your jewelry.

      Monday, March 7, 2011

      Organization Can Be an Illusion!


      Here's how you can get the illusion of organization, even if you actually aren't:

      Baskets and bins that you can't see through and that have lids. Even if the contents inside those baskets and boxes aren't organized (yet), having those items out of sight will take away some stress.

      Friday, March 4, 2011

      How to Organize Receipts

      Photo Credit: Account Angel

      Before you keep a receipt, ask yourself if you really need to. Many people keep WAY too many receipts because they think they may need them in the future. Here are some reasons to keep a receipt:
      • Tax purposes. If the purchase has a tax implication, keep it. Talk to your CPA or tax preparer for more information on those items.
      • Warranty or insurance purposes. Be sure to staple the receipt and warranty information together. I keep all of these in my manuals folder (with the manual) and not in a receipt folder. You do what works for you.
      • Possible returns. If you think you may need to return or exchange the item, keep the receipt.
      Check out these website for more information on what records you should keep:


      Options for organizing receipts:

      1. Digital. Scan those babies in! There are many programs you can buy that organize the scanned receipts for you. Just be sure to know the store's return policy - some will only accept the original receipt and not a scanned copy.

      2. Sort by categories in hanging file folders. Think about all the receipts that you need to keep and then make file folders that correspond to those categories. Some category examples include: food, car maintenance, doctor visits, furniture, MORE... Then start filing the receipts into the correct file. Make sure to look at the date...if the receipt is from another year, take it out and either toss it if you don't need it anymore or file it by year if you do. You don't want receipts from 2004 with the ones from 2011.

      3. Sort by date in a big envelope. If you don't have that many receipts that you keep, you may want to organize them by date and not category. Get one of those big manilla envelopes and write the year on the outside. Each time you get a receipt you want to keep, add it to the envelope.

      4. Sort by categories in an accordion check file. Same idea as the hanging file folders. Good for those who don't have a filing cabinet or who need it to be more portable.

      • Many retail stores can now look your receipt up if you used your debit or credit card to make your purchase. Target is one of them. For this reason, I NEVER keep receipts from Target. 

      • You rarely need to keep grocery store receipts. However, some people will need them for tax purposes (some medically necessary foods can be tax exempt).
      • Transfer the receipts as soon as you get home. Don't let them pile up in your wallet, purse, or desk until it's too overwhelming. 
      • Restaurant charges - if you left the tip on your debit/credit card, keep this receipt until you can look at your bank statement to make sure they entered the total amount correctly. My husband and I just went out to dinner and they charged our card twice the amount of tip that we actually left. Luckily, we had the receipt still and could dispute the charge.
      • If you use hanging file folders, be sure to get some with sides so the receipts don't fall out and get lost in the great filing cabinet abyss.

      Tuesday, March 1, 2011

      Declutter the Fridge

      Photo credit:

      One of the easiest ways to keep your kitchen feeling clutter-free and neat is to keep things off the front of the refrigerator. If you must have your child's artwork, phone numbers, cute magnets, etc...keep it contained to one of the sides of the fridge.

      Same with on top of the fridge. Keep it minimal and your kitchen will feel more peaceful.