You’ve Got Mail

July 23, 2009

Now what?

Don’t let that mail pile up! Attacking your mail each day only takes a few minutes.  Really…follow me!

#1 Pick up mail

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#2 Open mail, separate by category (55 seconds)

Here are my categories:

  • recycle (all envelopes, marketing stuffers, junk mail)
  • shred (credit card offers)
  • publications to read
  • bills to pay

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#3  Place piles in their “homes”  (1 minute, 5 seconds)

I traveled to:

  • paper recycling bin in laundry room
  • magazine basket in living room
  • “to shred” box in office
  • “action, bill ” center in office

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See, literally minutes.

Having “homes” and a process set up will help you do this in minutes as well.  Clutter is delayed decisions.  When people don’t have a system, they will tend to leave items, like the mail, where they land.  Entry tables, stairs or kitchen counter tops become overwhelmed by mail piles.  Take a few minutes to set up a system.  It will be worth it!

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Freedom from Clutter

July 3, 2009

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Happy 4th of July!

4th of July weekend is perfect to spend quality time with friends and family and celebrate our country.  Celebrate the people who  have sacrificed for us and our democracy.  The “land of the free”…free is such a powerful word.

If clutter or disorganization is a cause of distress for you, you can start now, in the spirit of freedom, to declare your independence from clutter.  Taking the time to tackle these challenges will help free you not only from physical clutter, but emotional clutter as well.

  • Commit the time
  • Create goals
  • Make decluttering a priority
  • Enlist the help you need
  • Refer to this blog for tips on specific areas

Remember…

Organizing is a Process not an Event

You can start small with  1 drawer, the kitchen counter or the bathroom vanity.  Edit out what no longer benefits you and create a home for what does.  Free yourself from the clutter.

But first, have a great weekend…I am wishing you and yours a very happy and safe holiday weekend.

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School is Out!

June 11, 2009

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Many school systems are either out for the summer or will be with in a few short weeks.  Some kids will be staying home and others are off to camp or a combo of both.

But mom or dad…you are not done yet.  There is a little wrap up yet to be done.

Now is the time to go through the kids paper and artwork from this year.  Many families don’t make the time and this can be a yearly or multi-year collection.  Take the time now and go through them.  You’ll be amazed at how much you have kept is no longer of interest (aka trash or recycling.)

When choosing the “keepers,” think about when you moved out.  What would you have wanted to take with you?  You can let the kids help choose too.  What we may think is important  to them, really is not.  It is important to us.  Keeping a few from each year that are creative, funny, representative of a milestone or a super achievement is fine.  Keeping every math test is not.

The same goes for art.  Remember you can photograph artwork easily.  This takes up less space and you can keep a digital, printed album or print and frame.

Create an “archive” area that is free from the elements to store.  Create container for each child.  Store “keepers” by year.  Each year end it is good to look through the previous years to edit out ones that may not be so important now.

Also, think about how you managed the kids paperwork this year.  What worked, what didn’t, what backed up?  Use these lessons for creating a better system for the Fall.

Wishing all the kids out there very fun and safe summer!

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I love the saying, “Organizing is a process, not an event.”  How true.  It is not something we do on a Saturday and it is done.  It takes ongoing maintenance to keep things in order.  Regularly making sure things are put away.  Re-evaluating systems to make sure they are working.  Donating or tossing items that no longer have a purpose in our life, are broken or damaged, etc.

It is much easier to put things away if items have a “home.”  I tell clients to do a sweep once a day for 15 minutes.  Put away anything that is left out, or has not been put away from coming in the door.  Working this habit into your day will help you maintain your organization.  I am more of a morning person.  My first priority of the day is to put on some yummy strong coffee.  As it is brewing, I do my “sweep.”  Some clients with children have the kids spend 10 minutes before they go to bed to put things away and make sure their book bags and backpacks are ready to go for the morning.  Pick a time that works for you and work it into your schedule.

Don’t want to be overwhelmed with a disorganized space?  Think of having “PEACE:”

Put

Everything

Away

Conquer

Every day

Peace out!

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Hey Mr. Postman…

May 14, 2009

Did you know that the price of stamps went up this week?  It is now 44 cents for a 1st class stamp.  If you planned ahead and bought a bunch of “forever” stamps you are all set.  If not be aware.

It is a good time to remind folks to create or maintain a “mail center.”  In one place (kitchen drawer, desk drawer, etc.) keep what you will need for mail.

  • Return address stamp or stickers
  • Stamps
  • Extra blank envelope

Following are some other helpful tips regarding stamps…stamps

  • You don’t have to save EVERY free address label you get from charity, etc.  There are only so many you will use.  Remember, they sent them to you without you asking for them.  It is ok to get rid of them…
  • Never have time to get to the post office or when you can the lines are just too long?  Many post offices have self service centers.  They are fast and easy to buy stamps and mail packages.  You can also purchase stamps on line at the USPS website.
  • Keep all stamps in one place.  Once you gather, see what you need to use them.  You may need some stamps to make up the difference from various prices increases.  Right now, you may need some 2 cent stamps for the recent increase.  Make an effort to go to the post office and get.  That way you will use them up.  The US Postal service has a \”Make Up Package\” on line where you can purchase 2 cents stamps.
  • Paying bills on line will cut down on purchasing stamps and all the organization that comes with it.  It will also save a lot of trees, gas, man-hours of processing paper bills.

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archival

Yesterday I was was working with a client organizing memories, keepsakes.  I was happy to see that she had already edited it down to what really mattered to her and there was not that much.

There was a box of magazines and newspapers from historical events.  I have to admit I have Princess Diana’s wedding and death People magazine issues and of course John John Kennedy from when he tragically died.  I know I really don’t need them, but I have the space and they are “organized.”

If you have similar “paper” items,  keep only what is related to the event.   You don’t have to keep the entire newspaper.  If you do look back at these or someday your relatives do, they don’t care that Herman’s was a store back in the 70’s or what was in the classified ads that day.  You/they care about reading  the story of the Middle East Peace Treaty, September 11th, The Red Sox winning the world series, and of course about Diane and John John 🙂  So, keep the important articles and photos and recycle the rest.

You will save lots of room for meaningful memories.  I just read a book by organizer Eileen Roth and loved this quote that can relate to this:

“Everything is the sum of parts, but some parts count more than others.”

When storing photos and and “paper” you want to choose a container that is acid free, like the box above from The Container Store.  Crafting stores like Michael’s and AC Moore also carry archival boxes as well.

Once you do have your “memory box,” go through it every once in a while.  Maybe as a child gets over or if there is a milestone in your life.  If items are worth keeping, don’t let them just live in the box and never see the light of day again.  If that is the case, then maybe they don’t need to stay at all…

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I have been hearing from friends on the East Coast that they have started to switch over their closets for the warmer months.  I have begun the process with clients as well.  Here on the East Coast we have had a burst of record heat.  96 degrees yesterday!  I am sure there will be many folks wanting to pull out the shorts this weekend!

If you have a system in place to do this, it will be less painful and take less time.  For several clients, we’ve got it down to a science!

The process and the storage will be different for everyone.  There are many variables that come into play — closet size, storage space, Spring/Summer activity wardrobe, and even “how hot do you get.”  My condo stays very cool, I tend to get cold easily.  So I still keep light sweaters out.  Only the turtleneck cashmere goes away.  But for some, they run hot and they won’t need to have any sweaters on hand.

A friend in NY lives in a small space so their off season clothing actually lives at a relative’s house.  It may not be the most convenient, but it is the most appropriate use of his space, and he has a “system.”  Yeah for him!

Ready to switch over?  Here’s how.

  • Go through your current closet/drawers.   Remove any items that are “out of season” for you.
  • Decide now if anything can be donated or consigned while it is fresh in your mind.
  • Make charity drop offs or schedule pick ups right away.
  • Store anything that will be great for consignment separate from everything else.  This way you will be organized come the Fall.  Mark your calender for Sept 1 to drop the clothing off.
  • Make sure items stored for the season are clean.
  • Move “off season” to your off season area.  Depending on your space it can be binned in an attic or basement, hung in covered racks in basement or attic, in an extra closet such as a guestroom, outside of your home if you live in the city and have a very small space.  For some it needs to be in the same closet.  If this is the case, put off season in the area that is hardest to get to.  Label bins by person for family members.

Now it is time for the Spring/Summer clothing

  • If you already store away, bring those bins/clothing to your closet.
  • Now is the time to try on the previous year’s items.  Especially children.
  • Anything that doesn’t fit or you no longer like?  Charity or consignment.
  • Make charity drop offs right away or schedule pick ups.
  • Bring to consignment right away.  The season has begun.
  • Put all clothing away.   Like items together.
  • Once you put your Spring/Summer items away, you will be able to see if you are missing any pieces from your wardrobe.  Make a list of anything you may “need” for the season.  This will keep you from buying unnecessary items.  It will also help you wear what you have by completing outfits.

This process can take a little time…but it will be worth it.  Dragging it out will only take longer in the long run.  Spending time looking for clothing will waste time.  Buying duplicates or items you really don’t need will waste time and money.  You get the idea…

Happy switching!

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