Spring Cleaning Your Closet

Spring is the perfect time for cleaning and organizing your closets. As the South Florida “winter” fades away, we no longer need the sweaters, boots and jackets that take up space in our closets.

The first and most vital step is to edit your wardrobe.  Touch every piece of winter clothing and make sure it is in good condition for next winter, that you love it and will wear it again. If the answer is no, then it is just clutter. Donate or consign items you no longer love.

Once you have edited your winter wardrobe, move those pieces to the back of the closet, or if you are lucky enough to have two closets, to the other. Then bring your Spring items to the front of the closet for easy access. Edit those items as well, so you make sure that everything is in good condition and wearable for the warmer weather. Don’t forget that new purchases will come in and further crowd the space.

Those with limited space can also store out of season items under their bed using an underbed storage box available at all big box retailers (Target, Walmart).

Put like-items together, so that you can find everything easily. Tanks with tanks, blouses with blouses, etc. I also organize each category by color (white to black).

Get rid of wire hangars – they tangle and harm clothes. Huggable Hangars, which are made of thin velvet, truly increase hanging space and the velvet prevents items from slipping off. Whatever hangars you choose, make sure they all match.

Make a checklist of Spring chores you need to do once or twice a year – take sweaters and winter jackets to the dry cleaners before putting them away, bring heavy comforters to the Laundromat before they’re stored, etc.

Maintenance: I tell all my clients that maintenance is key. Each day, put everything back where it belongs– either in the hamper, dry cleaning basket or re-hang.  It will take only 5 minutes a day and keep you organized. When you buy new items, put them in their proper category space when you get it home.

Make your spring cleaning and organizing Fun. Don’t think of it as a chore. Instead, think of it as a ‘feel good’ exercise–one that will really help you enjoy your clean and organized environment.

Happy Spring Cleaning!

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Clear Your Mailbox from Junk Mail

If junk mail and catalogs are cluttering your home, this great article from Readers Digest gives you comprehensive solutions to clear your mailbox.

 

Make Your Mailbox a Junk-Free Zone

Drowning in junk mail? New post office rules may make things even worse! Find out how to stop unwanted snail mail from clogging your mailbox.

 By Reader’s Digest Editors
If snail mail spam is one of your pet peeves, pull up a chair—you’ll want to be sitting down for this: A recent article in the Wall Street Journal reveals that in January the United States Postal Service relaxed the rules governing bulk mail (officially called “saturation mail” by the USPS), allowing more of it than ever before to jam your mailbox. In the past, a letter or package could not be delivered without having a specific address. As a result, marketers paid big money for mailing lists in order to promote their products and services. Now, direct mail firms need only address their mailings to “Postal Customer” and they’ll be delivered to every residential or business mailbox on an official route.

Feel like going postal? Here’s the good news: You can still opt-out of receiving bulk mail by contacting the marketer—or, rather, marketers of each and every unsolicited mailing. Luckily, there are several not-for-profit websites that do the dirty work for you. The following five steps will get you started, according to the folks at treehugger.com:

1. Contact the Direct Marketing Association. At your request, they’ll remove your name and address from numerous mass marketing lists for up to five years.

dmachoice.org

2. Register with Catalog Choice or TonicMailstopper to have your contact information removed from catalog lists.

catalogchoice.org

precycle.tonic.com

3. Review your privacy settings for all credit cards and utilities. Opt out of everything but communications from the company that are directly related to your account.

4. Say “No” to credit card solicitations. OptOutPrescreen.com is the official site of the Consumer Credit Reporting Industry dedicated to opting consumers in or out of credit card offers and promotions. Choose either a 5-year or permanent opt-out on the website or by calling 1-888-5OPT-OUT.

5. Research junk mail reduction services. Organizations such as SlotGuard and 41pounds.org offer low-cost options along with advice.

For even more ways to fend-off junk mail, check out these planet- and privacy-friendly sites:

ecocycle.org

Global Stewards

Treehugger.com

Affordable Closet Organizing Products

Closet space got you down? For those who are renting their homes or who can’t afford to put in a custom closet system, adding affordable closet organizing products to your existing space can give you a lot of storage you didn’t know you had.

Believe it or not, bulky hangars waste a lot of hanging space in your closet. By purchasing these Huggable Hangars, you can add about 20% more hanging space. Another reason I recommend them is that their velvet coating prevents clothes from slipping off and onto the floor. They also look really great! (Joy Mangano Huggable Hangars)

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Huggable Hangars

If your closet doesn’t already have shoe shelves, these shelves from ClosetMaid are awesome! Made of sturdy melamine, you can fit 9-12 pairs of shoes on each rack. Buy more than one unit and stack the shelves to get a “wall of shoes.” (just make sure that you secure them to the wall if you’re going to stack them high) Or, use several of them along the floor under hanging items. They’re so easy to put together and are available at Target and Walmart.

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Shoe rack

The contents of drawers tend to become disorganized fast. I love Dream Drawers to help you get control of your belongings. Divide the drawer in half or thirds and you can separate bras, underwear, socks, t-shirts, tank tops, shorts and even belts. Available at Bed Bath and Beyond and The Container Store.

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Drawer divider

If you have shelf space in your closet, you can store purses, t-shirts, sweaters or jeans. While shelved items do have a tendency to get messy if you’re not careful, these dividers can help tame the clutter. Available at www.organizeit.com.

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Shelf divider

While you may think that plastic shoe boxes are only useful to store shoes, they have so many other great uses in a closet. Use them to corral belts, scarves, jewelry, even junk.

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Shoe Box

 

You don’t need a custom closet system to get the benefits of an organized closet. These affordable closet organizing products can make any space more organized. Plus, you can take them to your new space when you move.

Happy organizing!

Tame The Electronic Clutter

With new electronic devices constantly coming out and grabbing our attention and our dollars, we have more cords and equipment than we know what to do with. Here are some ways to tame the electronic clutter that comes with our new toys.

Do you have lots of electronic cords and don’t know what equipment they belong to? Next time you purchase electronics, place the unused cords, adaptors and instructions in a Ziploc bag and label what it belongs to (ex: tablet, computer, phone). Put all the bags in one plastic bin and label it “Electronics.”

Traveling with electronic devises and their chargers can lead to a tangled mess of cords and confusion. GRID IT holds all your devises securely for easy travel. www.cocooninnovations.com

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Old laptop ready for the trash heap? It can release hazardous metals into the environment, so be careful. Instead www.cashyourlaptop.com will buy and refurbish it. Just make sure that all information has been securely deleted first. You can also check to see which local charities need your device at www.cristina.org/donate.html.

Tired of your cords and cables tangling. These Bobino cord wraps are awesome!

BobinosAll_x

 

With new cell phones constantly coming out, you can make money from your old devices by selling them to recyclers who sell them for parts. www.yourenew.com or www.BuyMyTronics.com gives you a price online and sends a prepaid shipping label to make it easy. If you prefer to donate, www.wirelessfoundation.org lets you download a prepaid mailing label.

Many clients have issues with unsightly computer cables that clutter their space. This Clutter Bin is a sleek container designed to hide cables and uses adhesive to latch hubs indie the sidewalls. www.bluelounge.com

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Wondering what to do with the used CD’s, DVD’s, video games and books you no longer want? www.abundatrade.com will buy these items and provide free shipping if you earn $50 or more from your trade.

With 4 USB ports, you can charge all your devices at once with this cute hub. www.bluelounge.com

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Here are some neat do-it-yourself solutions for organizing your cables.

paperclips-to-ogranize-cables use-old-toilet-paper-rolls-to-store-organize-cables-and-chords

It’s never been easier to tame the electronic clutter!

Digital Clutter

In this age of computers, tablets and smart phones, digital clutter has become just as big an issue as physical clutter. Here are some tips to declutter your devices.

Many people don’t want to delete emails even though they will never have time to consume them all. At this point, how long will it take you to read all the information you’ve saved? I suggest you take 10 minutes daily to go through your inbox and delete expired information and invites. A free tool that can help clean up your inbox is http://mailstrom.co. Mailstrom identifies bundles of related mail and makes it easy for you to act on them as a group.  It’s so liberating to get rid of digital clutter this way!

Don’t use your email inbox as a To Do list. Sifting through what you need is too time-consuming. Instead, move To Do’s to a task manager or calendar.

You hear the ding of an incoming email and are compelled to see what it is. FYI — these interruptions cost workers $5,000 annually. Instead, check your emails at intervals throughout the day.

Have slews of printed photos taking up your physical space? Scan them, or if you have too many, have a scanning company do it for you.  It’s OK to get rid of photos that you don’t like or duplicates. You wouldn’t put bad photos in a physical album, so getting rid of photos you don’t like is OK. Yes, it takes time, but it’s well worth it. Digital photos can take up lots of space on your computer or devices. Dropbox (www.dropbox.com)  is a great tool to get information off your devices and onto the Cloud.

Unsubscribe to email newsletter lists that you no longer have time to read. Oftentimes, we think that we’ll need the information later, yet never look at it. By the way, all information you will ever need can be found on the internet. An amazing tool which can unsubscribe from email lists in a few clicks is http://unroll.me.

How many apps are on the home screen of your smart phone? How many do you use on a regular basis? If there are apps that you no longer use or like, it’s time to get rid of them. Keeping them on your device eats up space and may slow down your device.

Cleaning up your digital clutter can make you more productive and help you just plain feel good.  The key is to take action and stay on top of it.

Tips To Make Kids Organizing Easy

As a professional organizer, I know how difficult it can be to get your kids to clean up their rooms and stay organized. Here are some tips to make kids organizing easy.

1. Label containers and shelves in your kids’ rooms. Once they can read, they’ll easily be able to learn to put things away by themselves. For those not reading yet, place pictures on bins so they’ll know where everything goes.

Crayons in Bin

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. For those parents desperate for their kids to put clothes in their hamper, these basketball hoop hampers will make it fun for them to throw things in.

Kids Dirty Dunk Hamper

Kids Dirty Dunk Hamper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Over-the-door shoe organizers can store small toys, Barbie and her clothes or even Hot Wheels for the kids.

Found on lowes.com

Found on lowes.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Get your kids to organize and clean up their rooms each day by turning the process into a fun game. Set an egg timer for five minutes and see how fast the kids can put away their toys or declutter their room.

5. These 3 Sprouts Storage Bin for toys are so cute and functional.

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6. This Lay-n-Go mat allows kids to play with all their Legos and then clean them up easily.

Lay-N-Go

Lay-N-Go

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Tired of all your kids’ bathtub toys cluttering the tub? After the bath, put the toys in a mesh laundry bag and hang it from the shower to dry.

Hanging Mesh Bag

Hanging Mesh Bag

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Parents keep WAY too much of their kids’ artwork and often store them in kids’ rooms. Keep the gems and toss the rest. Believe me, the kids don’t want as much as you think! Keep ONLY the treasures since you can’t keep them all (right?). You can always take a photo of the discarded artwork and put it in a photo album for each child.

9. When going out, forgetting an item in the diaper bag can make your life difficult, especially when you have a fussy baby. To avoid this, put a checklist of all the items you’ll need in a plastic sleeve and keep it in the bag. That way, you can check that you have everything you need before you go out. For older kids, keep a special on-the-go bag packed with everything you’ll need (coloring books, crayons, electronics) to keep the kids entertained during outings.

10. Donating stuffed animals is a no-no, since they could harbor harmful bacteria. Instead, mail items to www.lovinghugs.org, a charity that has toys professionally cleaned and sent to kids in need.

Creating organized systems takes practice for both parents and children. Using these tips to make kids organizing easy can help you simplify in a hectic world.

Take The Stress Out Of Your Move

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So, you’ve found the perfect home for your family and now you’re ready for the big move. While it is one of the most stressful events in a person’s life, you can take the stress out of your move with some planning and organization.

Declutter

Do you really want to move with half eaten food packages or items you won’t use? Take the prep time to go through your current home and get rid of anything you know you won’t use in your new space. If you’re downsizing to fewer bedrooms, do you really need lots of extra sheets, towels or furniture? Don’t spend the extra time and money packing things you won’t use, which will create more stress for yourself. Be brutal and ruthless! Donate any items you won’t use to a charity of your choice.

Movers

Get recommendations for movers from friends, family and colleagues. Most everyone has had an experience with movers, whether good or bad. I suggest you get at least two bids in writing from movers, who are licensed and insured. I also suggest that the movers, who are expert packers, pack fragile items, so that they make the trip intact.

The Particulars

Make a list of companies who mail you bills or contact you monthly, from credit cards to insurance companies. Fill out a change of address form on their websites, via mail or on the phone.  Advise services and utilities of your move and schedule disconnect/reconnect dates.  Fill out a change of address form with the US Postal Service at www.usps.com. They will forward any mail that still goes to the old address for a period of 6 months.

If you are moving from/into a condo, make sure that you reserve the elevator for your move-in or move-out.

Label cords that go into your electronic equipment — from TV’s to computers. You want to be able to hook cables up quickly and easily when you get into your new home.

Schedule a deep cleaning of your old space. It’s not nice to leave a dirty home for the next residents of your old home. You also want to have your new space cleaned as well.

Make arrangements for pets and kids on the day of the move. You don’t want anyone in the way of the movers and boxes that come in on move day.

Take It With You

On move day, I suggest you bring several items with you, despite the fact that you have movers. Hand carry valuables  including jewelry, passports, cash, etc. Also, take bedding, towels and clothing that you and your family will need for the first chaotic night in your new home. Unless you hire a professional organizer to unpack you, you will probably be living in boxes for the first few nights.

Planning and being organized during the process will help take the stress out of your move.

The Cost Of Clutter

The cost of clutter not only robs your wallet, but also your mind. The constant pursuit of more stuff, leads to debt overwork, stress, anxiety, waste and an unfulfilled feeling.

Many think that clutter is a superficial issue that’s no big deal. But for those people who are surrounded by clutter day in and day out, it affects everything in their lives: from their relationships to how they feel about themselves to money. What is the cost of clutter in your life, both economically and mentally?

Let me give you an example of a client named Mary (not her real name) to better understand the cost of clutter. I was referred to her by her psychiatrist. Mary moved into her 3,500 square foot home 23 years ago after marrying her husband Paul (not his real name). Clutter had been building in their home since then and it was everywhere. They had it all: from newspapers and magazines from the 1980’s to many hidden collections of items they “loved”  to clothes hung in the living room to termites. She was so embarrassed by the clutter that she didn’t and couldn’t have company over. There was literally no where to sit and Mary was stuck, not knowing where to turn. Mary said that she let her home get like that to teach her husband, who didn’t seem to care, a lesson and it got out of control. She and I both knew that wasn’t true and worked on the depression issues with her psychiatrist to understand what was going on. Luckily, their dilapidated home was on a great piece of property, which they sold for a profit. From there, the move into an 1,800 square foot townhouse was an issue because of the clutter they’d hoarded for years.

It was a huge undertaking, but Mary had no choice but to spend countless hours paying me to sort her items. She couldn’t do it alone and it’s a job for a professional, not friends or family. I helped her recoup some of her money back by separating items for a garage sale, selling valuable antiques to dealers and consigning high-end clothing. I also helped her move and plan her new space. Although many see professional organizing services as a luxury item, to Mary, I was a necessity.

My greatest joy in what I do is helping people and making a huge, positive impact on their lives. Although the work with Mary was very unglamorous (unless you like women in plastic gloves) it is my joy to know what the outcome will be and how she will be free to live her life.

Another client April (not her real name) lives in Boston. When her brother passed away in Miami, she and her daughter came down to make arrangements. What they found in his apartment was a situation similar to Mary’s. I was contacted by April’s organizer in Boston to help the family get rid of the clutter. Once again, my services were not a luxury item but a necessity. After only 11 hours of work, garbage was bagged and donation items were set up. I made arrangements with a junk removal company, a charity for pick up and a maid service and when April and her daughter returned one day, the cluttered apartment was cleaned out. I also shipped items they wanted to two different cities and found a driver to get his car to Chicago. April needed my services and was so grateful that I could handle it all.

Although these cases are extreme and very real, what about small things like late charges associated with not paying bills on time because they got lost in clutter? What about all that time wasted because you can’t find something? What about buying an item several times because you can’t find the original?

The stuff that comes into our lives on a daily basis needs to be controlled or it can easily become out-of-control clutter and cost us money.  We all need to tackle little bits of clutter every single day just to keep it in check. I do.

Why do we delay what we know we need to do? A task left undone remains undone in two places – at the actual location of the task and inside your head, consuming energy and gnawing at you conscience. If you start it, finish it or … forget it.

Do a little organizing — OFTEN. When you walk between rooms, take an out-of-place item with you and put it where it belongs. “I might need it someday” is never a reason to keep something you don’t use.

“Clutter isn’t about stuff at all. It’s about our relationship to stuff. It becomes a problem when people look for meaning, support and affirmation from their belongings, instead of from other people.” – Peter Walsh

So, what is the cost of clutter in your life?

 

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 The Cost of Clutter!

 

Kitchen Organizing Tips

Since the kitchen is the hub of every home, here are some neat  kitchen organizing tips made easy.

If your recipes are a mess, you can create a custom recipe book for just a few dollars. Go to an office supply store and purchase: a 3-ring binder, clear plastic sleeves and dividers. Place recipes in the sleeves by category (appetizers, soups, entrees, dessert, etc.), label the dividers with the categories you’ve created and place in the notebook. You’ve created an instant recipe book and best of all, the sleeves wipe off easily in case of food spills.

Tie racks don’t always belong in the closet. If you have wall space, hang the rack horizontally on a kitchen wall and place dish towels, pot holders and even utensils for accessible hanging storage.

Junk drawer look like, well,  junk? Purchase a junk drawer organizer and transform your mess into a useful space.

How long has it been since you’ve purged your pantry. While canned goods last for a long time, they do expire. Now is the time to toss expired canned goods and pantry items and make a list of products to re-stock.

Kitchen counters accumulate clutter and paper piles fast. Clear counter tops nightly to make sure your surfaces stay junk free. An old-fashioned dry erase calendar in the kitchen can help busy families display everyone’s activities.

Storing flat baking sheets and trays can be a pain. If you have room in a cabinet, place trays in a vertical tiered file separator and use for flat kitchen items instead of its traditional use for files.

Office Depot Brand Wire File And

Every time I go into a kitchen, the homeowner has issues when nestling pots and pans in cabinets. Glideware is a great solution. By hanging the pots and pans in the pull out system, finding the right cookware has never been easier.

Hate scrubbing your refrigerator shelves to get rid of messy spills? Fridge Binz are clear plastic trays which keep food categories neatly together in the fridge. They also stack and slide easily.

When it’s difficult to see behind items in your pantry, things can get lost in the “abyss.”  Three tier expandable shelves work great for cans or spices.

Interestingly, the average person uses only 20% of the items in their kitchens 80% of the time. And you thought that still-in-its-box bread maker was the perfect purchase! Organizing your kitchen is made easy with just a few tips and tricks.

Closet Tips: Clear The Clutter In Your Closet

Closet1No, your closet walls won’t expand in order for you to fit everything in. So how do you make your closet a neat and comfortable space? Here are some tips to clear the clutter in your closet:

The first step in organizing any closet is to decide what stays and what goes. Yes, you probably have too much stuff, especially if you can’t find what you need quickly and easily. Many of my clients have a hard time going through this process when we begin and then find it liberating at the end when they see the space we created in their closets.

Go through each item: if you love it, it stays; if you’re not sure, try it on; if you know you won’t wear it again, give it to charity or consign it. By the way, if you try on an item and it doesn’t look good now — trust me it never will. “I may need it someday” is never a reason to keep an article of clothing that doesn’t look good on you. If you’re not sure about what you wear, a neat trick is to turn all your hangars backwards (with the opening toward you). Every time you wear an item, turn it back normally and you’ll see what you wear and what you don’t throughout the year.

Separate emotions from your possessions. It’s fine to be attached to some items – your grandmother’s necklace, a special keepsake from your travels, etc. The outfit you wore on your first date with your spouse 10 years ago, on the other hand, can go. Take a picture of it instead.

Some great ways to get rid of items you no longer want: 1. Host a clothing swap party. Each person brings ten “like new” items they’re willing to part with and can select items that another person brings. Add a little wine and it’s a party. Anything not swapped goes to charity. 2. Sell: find a consignment store in your area and take items there to see what you can sell. I find that designer and vintage items are the most valuable for resale. Another option is to sell online through Tradesy (www.tradesy.com). Just post your items and when they sell, they send you a prepaid shipping kit. Best of all, they only take 9% of the final sale. 3. Donate to your favorite charity.

Once you clear the clutter in your closet by getting rid of items that no longer work for you, getting dressed in the morning becomes much easier. More to come…