National Moving (de-clutter) Day!

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The day after Memorial Day is the busiest day of the year for moving. Known as National Moving Day, it also jumpstarts the summer moving season.  ~ SpareFoot.com

Every once in a while, I am hired by a client who is already highly organized.  It is often due to a life transition that has pushed the client beyond his/her comfort zone.

Moving is one of those times!

Even with checklists, supplies, and ample time, starting off in a new home without getting bogged down in a myriad of stuff is super challenging.  The logical thing to do is go through every single closet, drawer, and nook and cranny in the home before packing it all up.  But who has time for that?

  1. Make time to go through your stuff!

Seriously.  The less you have to pack, the less you pay to move it.  The less you pack, the less there is to un-pack.  The less…well, you get the idea.  Moving is the perfect time to de-clutter.  And less is best.

It can be difficult for a highly organized person to live in the unsettled environment of a home in transition.  The key is to recognize that it is temporary.  Keep in mind that the goal of the mess on the front end is to be able to settle into the new home more efficiently on the back end.

  1. Start as soon as you can!

Start well in advance and start easy. Go through the closets, drawers, and nooks and crannies.  Look only for obvious “do not want to take to new home” items.  Keep at it as often as your can until you have been through every space.  Donate, discard, recycle and (if you have time) sell.

On the second pass through, it is time to start boxing up.  If it is summer, pack up the winter clothes.  Keep in mind what you will not need for the next few months.  Label it clearly.  As you go, really consider what is going in the boxes.  Does it deserve the time and energy spent to box it up, move it, and find space for it in the new home?

  1. Moving is the perfect time to de-clutter, so you may as well go for it!

Stop thinking of the home as a home.  It is now a staging area for the movers.  If you do not start disrupting the settled environment, you will be in for a rude awakening on the last day!

If you can, start emptying out entire closets, and then entire rooms!  Notice how often you have been saying, “I’ll do this one the last week.”  That is how items get lost in a move.  Waiting until the last minute to comb through too many things results in items getting shoved into boxes without proper labels.  Emptying out a refrigerator takes longer than you think!

  1. Consider Storage

Inventory your furniture.  As you do, move it out from the wall.  Look at it from another angle.   Do you really want it in the new home?  How many lamps will you need? Not sure?

One option is storage.  The following is from SpareFoot.com, “Each year, about 50 percent of SpareFoot customers book storage because of a move. It’s the number one reason people look for storage.”

What you may not know, is that storage has become an on-demand, service oriented industry.  If you are making good headway and do not have a need for an entire storage pod, or storage locker, on-demand storage may be an easy for those “in transition, tough decision items.”Spare Foot pic

Box or bin up those tricky items, or undecided furniture, schedule a pick-up, and get them out of the way!  When you are settled into your new home, schedule a time for the items to be returned.  You will have better perspective when things are settled and decisions should come easier.  Who knows?  You may even decide that storing your collection of holiday decorations off-site is a better solution!

  1. Hire one of NAPO’s Professional Organizers!

If you are feeling overwhelmed, hire a Professional Organizer!  Even if you are highly organized, a move can be overwhelming – even with checklists.  A Professional Organizer can fill just about any role:

Packing boxes

Assisting with decluttering decisionsbox

Taking inventory

Sharing tips and tricks

Removing donations

Keeping checklists on schedule

Being on-site the day of the move

And, of course, unpacking and breaking down boxes in the new home…

 

Now – get moving!

 

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Solving the Unwanted Gift Dilemma – With Love

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Several years ago, my family solved the problem of unwanted gifts…Declare-Order-Logo-Concept-500px mini

As is customary, we would gather at my sister’s house on Christmas Day to eat, enjoy each other’s company, and exchange presents. With the addition of new babies, the list of who to buy for was long and ever-expanding.  We amended the gift policy, deciding to draw names and buy for one adult, but still purchase for all the kids.

A few Christmases ago we further amended that policy and as a result, have solved the “feeling good while getting rid of unwanted gifts” dilemma.

Our gift exchange for the adults is now a festive pile of creatively wrapped “White Elephant” gifts!  We actually put as much effort into selecting which items make the cut as we would shopping for new stuff.  And it is an eclectic little pile.

For example, my husband is an Assistant Principal at a middle school.  At this time of year, he receives a lot of random small gifts. This year, amidst the little boxes of Turtles and Starbucks Gift Cards, he received a Karate Post-it Note dispenser.  We wrapped it with care (with  previously used holiday paper and saved up ribbons of course) and added it to our laundry basket of gifts to tote to my sister’s home Christmas Day.  When my brother-in-law picked that gift to open, my nephew went crazy for it!

My elderly mother wrapped a patterned black and beige cotton scarf someone had given her that she found never matched her wardrobe.  My daughter traded for it, put it on, and declared it perfect. It was!

My son, a budding fisherman, also traded over for a gift.  My mother had opened a cheap little pocket knife that my sister confessed to adding to the mix because she thought my son would want it.  She was right.

As these unwanted gifts and household items are opened, exclaimed over, and traded around, merry laughter fills the air.

In addition to recycled gifts, we have also been adding gently used clothing to our gift exchanges.  This year, I brought a tastefully wrapped red cardigan from Eddie Bauer that felt outdated on me.  I presented it to my mom who became quite excited, saying she really needed a cardigan like that.  I also brought a sparkly black Ann Taylor shell top that just does not fit me properly.  It think my sister grabbed that one.

The idea is that the items have new life.  If even just for Christmas day.  Yes, that re-gifted book might go unread, but it can be passed along in the next AMVETS donation box, or added to a Little Free Library.  It seems the guilt is reduced, because the original recipient is not the one doing the actual donating.

In addition, we are modeling for the next generation that there is already enough to go around.  You just have to look for it.  And present it with love.

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A white elephant, “White Elephant” gift!

 

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Raising Responsible Kids: Tips for Helping Your Kids Manage Homework and Housework

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The holiday season also marks an approach to the half-way point of the logodokidsschool year.   Use this winter break as an opportunity to look at what habits your kids have formed – good and bad!  Need to tweak a few things?  Please refer to this post I contributed to the Organizing Tutor at the beginning of the school year for some helpful advice.  Happy Holidays!

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Parents!  Raise your hand if you have been feeling guilty about barking, “Clean your room!” at your children now that the school year is in full swing.       continue reading

 

Coming Out of the Closet – Top 10 Reasons I Love My Capsule Wardrobe

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Coming Out of the Closet – Top 10 Reasons I Love my Capsule Wardrobe

IMG_5549Everyone is talking about capsule wardrobes! Included in the conversation are, “personal uniforms.” It simply means more people are wearing the same clothes all the time. On purpose!

I wear the same clothes all the time.

In fact, I have been living with very few clothes for several years. I kind of felt like I was cheating – especially when people didn’t seem to notice! For me, deciding to have fewer clothes in rotation was a combination of efficiency, frugality, and being picky about what feels comfortable. Having a set number of clothes was working for me, but I wasn’t sure other people would understand.

Now that the idea has hit mainstream, I no longer have to hide my habit in my mostly empty closet!

Thinking about giving it a try? Can’t even begin to imagine? Check out my top ten reasons and let me know what you think!

The “Top 10 Reasons I Love My Capsule Wardrobe!”

  1. EASY DAILY DECISIONS: I wear what is clean. No time is wasted deciding “what to wear.” The clothes mix and match, I am comfortable in them, and they fit. If I discover I don’t wear something, it doesn’t stay in rotation for long!  My daily decisions come down to  which accessories to use.
  2. CLUTTER-FREE CLOSET: Living without boundaries for stuff creates clutter. Putting a boundary on clothes reduces closet clutter and makes my wardrobe easier to manage. I keep a certain number of white hangers for tops and black hangers for bottoms. If I find I am in need of an extra hanger, I probably have too many items in rotation!
  3. PILE-FREE LAUNDRY: I run out of clean items about once a week. Most everything gets tossed together into a Cold/Cold wash cycle and air dried. Some items air dry right on their hangers. If I wear something for a few hours, I hang it back up inside out to wear again later in the week. No more piles of cast-offs withering on the floor too wrinkled and dusty to be worn!hanger
  4. EVERYTHING FITS: I gained a few pounds over the winter and changed the clothes in my wardrobe rotation accordingly. Experience told me it was a temporary gain, so I pulled my elastic waistband pants into heavy rotation. Now the winter weight has been shed (Whoot!) and my favorite jeans and summer capris are out of the drawer and back in the mix!
  5. CALORIE-FREE CHEATING: When I get tired of the clothes in my rotation, I “cheat” and borrow something – from myself or my teenage daughter. I pulled on a “trendy” cardigan of hers a few mornings this winter rather than purchase something new. Cheating helps to get over the blah days, or times when I need a change and accessories just aren’t cutting it.
  6. I LEARNED I DON’T LIKE TO WEAR RED: I like black. Or navy blue. Most everything in my rotation is black or navy blue. Whenever I have red in rotation, it tends to hang there all week. Over time, I just stopped including it. Even the smart red cardigan I grabbed for free at my SWAP party is back in the drawer and is probably headed to the donation pile. Who knew?
  7. BUYING SOMETHING NEW IS A “BIG DEAL”: I don’t shop for clothes very often and when I do it is with a purpose. Not just “anything” gets into my rotation. For Valentine’s Day, my husband bought what has become my new favorite thing. It is a BB Dakota Oliana French Terry Jacket that has taken me from February to June! I have worn it casually, or more dressed up with slacks and a scarf. My husband is pleased he found such a versatile addition! (Little shout-out to Jill over at Jeans and a Cute Top Shop for hooking him up!)
  8. OLD FAVORITES: Speaking of favorites, I have a pair of black elastic waistband slacks that my sister “donated” to me over ten years ago. I air dry them every time I wash them. These trusty slacks have been in active heavy rotation about four years now because they work with everything! I stitched together a few seams and recently purchased a possible replacement. They deserve to be retired!hanger
  9. THE JOY OF ROTATING: Ahh, rotation day! Rotation days happen about once every two months. I sort through clothes that are not in rotation and make the appropriate seasonal changes. I usually start with too many pieces and spend an hour or so deciding what I will wear for the next two months. I used to select a “color story” so it took longer, but I have become pretty attached to black, navy blue, and grey and my clothing inventory is at an all-time low.
  10. ONE LESS THING: Over time, I have developed more of a “personal uniform” and have purchased two of the same item (sometimes in a different color) when necessary. Not having to spend time on my wardrobe every day, frees up my time and keeps me on schedule. It is one less thing.

Clothes are actually really simple. We are the ones who make them complicated. Time to declare a little more LOVE in your basic wardrobe! Try it with your kids too!

Simplify – I Dare You

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Simplify – I dare you!

In theory, simplifying sounds easy. Get rid of the stuff you don’t need. Reduce your number of activities. Create a weekly menu plan. Take technology breaks. Budget. Get rid of MORE stuff you don’t need…

In his book, Simplify, author Josh Becker states: “Since becoming minimalist, we have saved money, reduced clutter, and removed distractions. Our home is cleaner. And three-day weekends are spent together as a family, not cleaning the garage.”

Sounds idyllic, right?

But it is HARD.

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We live in boundless times. The internet connects us to more information than we can possible use. With access, we can read, learn, shop, share, hire someone, meet someone, browse, work, stress over, and entertain ourselves at any hour of the day or night. We love this access. But, boy, do we have a difficult time managing it!

Errands are boundless too. We run in and out of here, and then in and out of there, swiping cards in a succession of mini-tasks. We eat meals in the car. A store “at the corner of happy and healthy” even welcomes us at 2am!

How, then, is it possible to put a limit on the boundless? The quantity of stuff in our lives, the number of activities we shuttle from and to, the amount and type of “food” we consume, the technology that connects us, the amount of time we work, and the more and more stuff we move from here to there and there to here is HARD to simplify.

So, how do we do it?

By being BRAVE.

By being brave enough to do without orange juice until a planned shopping trip. Even though it is easy to just “run out and grab some.”

By being brave enough to wear the same winter coat for a third year in a row. Even though having “the latest” style is super-tempting.

By being brave enough to admit that you will never actually scrapbook the early accomplishments of your three beautiful children and collect and preserve everything in a box – like your parents did for you.

By being brave enough to establish boundaries with your kids rather than defaulting to, “Text me…”

By being brave enough to say, “No.” to activities for your kids that require late practices.

By being brave enough to turn off e-mail and Facebook notifications.

By being brave enough to have people over.

By being brave enough to resist a sale. Or a discount. Or Kohl’s cash.

By being brave enough to let your kids stay home and complain about being bored – without “finding them something to do.”

By being brave enough to admire the display on the “endcap” without some of it ending up in your shopping cart.

By being brave enough to subscribe to fewer magazines.

By being brave enough to hang and use only a few of your favorite clothes at a time.

By being brave enough to purchase fewer clothes for your kids.

By being brave enough to ask for help.

By being brave enough to accept help.

By being brave enough to reduce, and reduce, and reduce, until you can take care of what you already have.

By being brave enough to let simple,

be enough.

Five “Real Simple” Organizing Ideas for the Not-So Simple Holiday Season

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giftsI turned the page in this month’s Real Simple magazine and read this:

“100 Inspiring Surprising Time-Saving Jolly-Good Ideas to Make Those Holidays the Happiest Ones Yet.”

Yes, this is the actual title of the article – “100 Inspiring Surprising Time-Saving Jolly-Good Ideas to Make Those Holidays the Happiest Ones Yet.” Kind of sums up the frantic nature of the holidays doesn’t it? Not really that simple!

Spurred on by the promise of time-saving ideas, I plowed through the list. It took two days, but I managed to read and consider all one hundred.   For the most part, it was as promised – a festival of merry options. Contributors offered mini-blurbs about their own holiday traditions, recipes, and offered mugs of good cheer.

Within the trappings of the 100 blurbs, I discovered a few organizing gems. I have shared five below to help make the holidays a little simpler, while maintaining the jolly. Perhaps you do one of them already? Or perhaps you will become inspired; not only during the holidays season, but into the New Year and beyond!

  1. Group decorative objects on trays to help holiday accents look deliberate and put-together

We celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas in our home, so I have always displayed our modest Hanukkah décor in a grouping. I would agree that it looks more put-together, is easier to clean around, and I can make an impact with fewer pieces. I tend to display the Christmas items in cheerful groupings too – all the Santas together, or snowmen, or certain shades of red.

On a practical note, I am a fan of using trays for a put-together look organizing everyday objects. Try one for those random items on top of a dresser, kitchen counter, or desk in the home office!

  1. Number holiday storage boxes in the order you need to bring them out

I don’t really need to do this in our home because there are so few containers (yep – real simple!), but outdoor lights would be my #1. I start decorating after Thanksgiving – as soon as there is an unseasonably warm day. The Christmas tree is small and less of a focal point in our home, so ornament containers would be last.

This year, I will make sure the lights are the last back on the shelves so they can be first out next year! Next November I will be patting myself on the back. If you do not already have your holiday collection contained and labeled, make this the year you do it before you put it all away for the season.

  1. Have a re-gifting party

My side of the family has a re-gifting “White Elephant” tradition on Christmas Day. We gather, open re-gifted gifts, trade ruthlessly, and have a few laughs along the way. Recycled wrapping paper is encouraged and wrapping gifts from largest to smallest works great because scraps from large gifts can be used to wrap the small ones. Last year, I received a wonderful book, “The Language of Flowers” and never-worn (I hope!) holiday socks!

Host a “Swap Party” any time of year and ask guest to bring excess home décor, DVD’s, sweaters, and/or accessories. Thrifty and entertaining!

  1. Ship presents on ahead unwrapped, then wrap when you arrive

Clever tip! No need to lug wrapped gifts while travelling. Something always rips, doesn’t it? I use several laundry baskets to organize gifts when travelling in the van, but it would be easier to wrap once we arrive. Or at least wait to put the finishing touches on. Definitely inspired to pack the wrapping and trims separately and try this one!

  1. Kids too young to read? Put their photos on their gifts to make them easier to find

Aww…we have done this. Highly recommend for those special kiddos on your list! Heck, why not do it anyway for anyone using goofy old photos from the piles you have in that back cabinet. Maybe it will inspire you to sort, organize, and contain your old photos!

BONUS JOLLY IDEA!!!

Serve caramelized bacon as an appetizer

Searched back up the 100 list for this one. I know, it is not an organizing tip, but – bacon. With brown sugar. I have yet to make a successful batch as compared to a friend’s version, but this reminded me to attempt it again. Because, bacon.

Wishing you a Simple Jolly Holiday!

Do Your Kids Hate to “Clean Their Rooms?” Try This Fun Tip!

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A young acquaintance of mine (age 10) is passionate about writing.  She is also loves to read – and organize!  When I asked her to share advice for other kids about organizing, her answer surprised me.  It turns out that tracking her progress helps her to stay motivated.

Her full response (written in her own words) is below.  There are so many articles about outdoor Fall Clean-up, she has cleverly titled hers, “(Inside) Fall Clean-up!”

logodokids(Inside) Fall Clean-up

This is about progress. What always helps me clean a messy room, is, I clean certain spots at a time. When I want to start a spot, I take a “Before” picture of the mess. And then, of course, I clean the spot. Once I am finished with that spot, I move on to another area, and take a picture of that mess. Once I am finished doing that with every spot, I take an “After” picture of each area. Then, I compare all of the pictures, and see how much I cleaned up.  

There you have it!  Great tips from the trenches – written by a kid!

1.  Taking photos of the different sections breaks the task into manageable chunks.

2. ‘Before” pictures always look terrible, so your kids can have a little LOL before they begin.

3.  Staging “After” pictures actually requires a little extra fine tuning, so the room will be even cleaner!

Please let us know what other organizing challenges your kids are having and we will collaborate on more advice.

Now, go clean YOUR room 😉

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