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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How to Whittle a Wardrobe Rotation

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Declare-Order-Logo-Concept-500px miniI get a lot of questions about how I maintain my whittled wardrobe rotation.  Here is a three-step synopsis!

Whittle: to reduce the amount of, as if by whittling; pare down; take away by degrees (Dictionary.com)

When I first started keeping fewer clothes in rotation, the process of whittling down involved PILES and PILES of clothes – so fret not.  You’ll get more efficient at it too!

Because I have been whittling for five years now, I realized I can fit all my options in ONE PHOTOGRAPH!  In fact, most everything will make the cut, because I own so few clothes these days, but I still take the time to think it through.

It is a little weird for me to place everything on the floor and not the bed, but I wanted to capture it all together.  Disclaimer: Some items were pulled from the laundry basket, so they look a little worse for wear!

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What you are seeing are the tops, bottoms, and dresses that I will be choosing from to wear for the next month.  I prefer to start with an empty closet space and hang only the clothes that I will be wearing in the closet.  Everything else I own fits into a six drawer dresser and one under bed storage bin!

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Ready and waiting!

Here is my three-step Whittling thought process:

  1. What will I be doing professionally in the month ahead?   

This month, I have a NAPO-Chicago chapter meeting, my current Declare Order clients, my current position with local elementary school kids, and the National Association of Professional Organizers Conference!  I want to keep this in mind so that have appropriate options for everything.

  1. What color story is emerging?

Based upon what colors I am seeing in magazines, on colleagues, etc. I have an idea of what I might want to be wearing, but it also depends upon what is revealed as I look at the options.  I am pretty sure that I will be using teal and tomato, but navy and white is appealing as well.

Sure enough, the tops divide pretty evenly into these two camps. I see “navy and white” and “teal, tomato, and olive.” So…

 

  1. How can I layer and combine what I have chosen?

Now the trying on begins.  Because of the crazy Chicago weather, as well as air conditioning vs. being outside, I have to consider layering.  I try various combinations to arrive at a decision.  I am going to eliminate any light blue, but keep teal.  I will keep one

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Process of elimination…

of the two trapeze neckline tops (the black because I have a Black and White party to attend).  I will keep the lighter weight of the two navy and white striped options because I can layer and still get the desired effect.  And I am not generally a “print” person, so I will remove two “print” tops.  My goal is to wear everything by the end of the week and have minimal laundry as a result.

In the end, my whittled rotation that has earned closet space for this month or so contains:

1 navy and white print dress

1 navy blazer

2 cardigans (navy and tomato)

2 long sleeve tops (teal and beige print) that have a ¾ sleeve roll-up option

4 short sleeve tops (2 black (not pictured), 1 navy and 1 navy print)

4 no sleeve/strappy tops (olive, navy and white stripe, black, beige and tomato floral print)

6 bottoms (3 navy, 1 dark navy and 1 beige)

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20 basic items TOTAL

The overall color story for the month worn on real people (courtesy of Ann Taylor Loft, Limited Express, and the Gap) is something like this.

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Black Lightweight Wool Two-Button Blazer - Black

Black Lightweight Wool Two-Button Blazer – Black

 

This rotation does not include the two sweaters I decide to keep handy for when I am cold (always) around the house.  Nor does it include pajamas or clothes to wear when doing yard work or walk/hiking.  It also does not include the two long sleeve cotton tops and two tank tops that I might need for layering.  Those live in the drawer.

Think you can do it?  You may have to start by just doing one type of top at a time if you have waaaaay more clothes than I do.  But just becoming conscious and considering the idea of keeping few clothes in rotation can change habits for the better in the long run!

Please comment below with questions and will be happy to help you!

 

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

 

The Three Best Ways to Equip Your Kid for College – That Will Not Cost You A Thing

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resilienceYes, I am a Professional Organizer. No, this is not a list of what to purchase to organize a dorm room! The best ways to prepare your kid for college are not about “just right” closet containers.

Equipping your kid for college USED to be all about purchasing supplies. It was a rite of passage requiring special trips and careful planning. These days, everything your college student needs is probably already in your house! Or a quick Target run away – even after 8pm on a Sunday night.

For those things, load up your student’s debit card and tell them to have at it! They know their way around the store. They have been shopping with you for years.

No, the best way to prepare your student for college is by CHANGING YOUR OWN HABITS. And it starts with the phone…

1. Cut the “Text Me” Umbilical Cord

What are your Cell Phone habits with your student? At your home, would I hear the following phrases?

a. “Text Me when you get there.”

b. “Text Me when you need a ride.”

c. “Text Me if you forgot anything.”

Breaking the “Text Me” habit starts now, before your student is away at school. My own kids know I trust them to leave me. And they know I am not waiting around to hear from them. If plans change and they need a ride at a different time, or the pick-up location has changed, all I ask is they let me know about fifteen minutes before our agreed upon time. (Any sooner than that and the plans may change again.)

Try instead:

a. “Drive safely!“

b.  “About what time should I be available to pick you up?”

c. “Have a great day!”

When you hear yourself about to say, “Text Me,” consider how you can empower your student to manage the situation a different way. If you don’t, you and your cell phone will still be your student’s first line of defense for solving problems away at school. Getting used to you not being connected to EVERYTHING gives your student the confidence to plan and prepare – important organizing skills for navigating a college campus!

2.  Slow Your Response Time

We live in unprecedented times. Our kids have come of age as the “Immediate Gratification Generation.” Rapid access to money, fun foods, ceaseless on-line entertainment, healthcare, and photos of their friends is expected.

So…what happens when something unexpected happens? Kids expect it to be taken care of. Right. Away.

The Immediate Gratification Generationers actually need their parents to teach them to get comfortable with “discomfort.” And it takes effort. For both sides.

Here are three examples of ways break the NOW cycle:

a.  I need money! Instead of adding money to a bank account with a click, what if you worked out a budget? Help your student fill out a spreadsheet using previous debit card data and teach them to track their expenses. Agree upon an amount you will provide and stick to it. Even if it means passing up that t-shirt, shoe sale, or app download.

b. There is nothing to eat! If your kids are in the habit of ignoring the half-empty bags, change how you store them. Cut off the excess bag and clip it. Shake partially filled boxes into a Tupperware container. Don’t offer to run to the store just because there is “nothing to eat.” There is, they just might have to work at it.

c. I have a headache. Headache? Sniffles? Let it ride. Whatever happened to the common cold? We call it a sinus infection. Teach your student that a few aches and pains are okay and do not require a trip to urgent care. Grab a Kleenex and take a nap. Mild symptoms may persist for a few days, but they are supposed to.

Slowing your response time will give your student time to work through and solve problems for themselves. Yes, you know what they need. No, you do not always have to do something about it. In the long run, self-control and patience are more important life skills than dashing about for a quick fix. Be supportive (of course!), but do not plan to be their virtual personal assistant while they are at school.

3. Let Them Struggle

Uh, oh. Your kid did not text you for help, ran into a problem, and made it worse. Good news! It is okay for your kid to struggle.

The word, “resilience,” is making the rounds, because the IGGers have demonstrated they do not feel they can handle problems on their own. The real challenge is, can YOU handle not stepping in? No one wants to see his/her child uncomfortable, but it is important to separate from their problems, or your kid will always expect you to step in with immediate solutions.

You are inadvertently teaching your student he/she cannot manage without you.

Unless your kid’s safety is at stake, ask yourself, “Will my involvement encourage his/her dependence on me?”

When you take that first step backwards, you may notice your student procrastinate the task at hand. And that will be difficult to manage. But, remember, it is his/her way of forcing you to step in.

Kids are good at the game. Allow them to play a wrong card every now and again and you will be teaching them to play LIFE. Help them enjoy the ride!

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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!

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