Old news is No news…

June 16, 2009

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Last night I had a good newspaper catch up night.  I was bound and determined to have all the newspapers that were backed up be in the recycling bin by end of the evening.  Last week was a busy week and I did not get through them all.

Many people keep their newspapers  for weeks and months on end, thinking that they will get to them.  But even if they did, the information is old.  Do you want to spend your precious time in June reading about the Inaugural (happened in January) or who won the Kentucky Derby (last month)  about the Swine flu outbreak (a month or so and it changes every day?)

Many people I know just keep getting the daily newspaper because it is just something they have always done.  But it adds pressure to the day.  The stack sitting there saying “read me, read me.”  Here are a few tips to make getting the newspaper a less stressful experience:

  • Think about how much you really sit and read it.
  • Consider subscribing to less days per week.  Perhaps Thursday – Sunday.
  • Each day remove sections you know you will not read and put in recycling right away.  For me it is auto, sports and classified.
  • At the end of the week, recycle anything you have not read.

I still enjoy flipping through the newspaper, especailly the “local” one.  I hate the thought of newspapers coming to an end as we know them.  But that said, narrow down what you read, and spend quality time with it.

Off to the recycling bin….

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Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start to Summer.  In my head Summer is Memorial Day through Labor Day, not the actual seasons on the calendar.  Are you “ready” for fun?

  • Find, try on and wash bathing suits.
  • Consolidate all sunscreen in one area. Throw away any lotions that have expired and re-stock.
  • Take a tour of the garage, basement or shed. Put like items (beach chairs, bikes, summer sport equipment) together for easy access.
  • Toss or donate any summer equipment you will no longer use or is broken, rusted, etc.
  • Create a beach bag – place toys, first-aid items, even fresh towels in canvas carry bags. Keep in car,  garage or other handy, easy access space.
  • Check current supplies of any first-aid items – band aids, Neosporin, sunburn remedies.

Many clients ask me if suncreen lotion expires.  Take a look at your lotion and see if it has an expiration date.  If it does, great the answer is right there.  If not, here are a few suggestions:

  • Some lotions have a number “12, “24” which indicates how many months it is good for.
  • If it is just about gone, be safe and get a new one.
  • You can try when you are going to be in the sun for a limited amount of time and check to see if it is still providing protection.
  • The Mayo Clinic says it should last 3 years…learn more about what they have to say about sunscreen here.

I am wishing everyone a wonderful holiday weekend.

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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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NAPO, the National Association of Professional Organizers just got a face lift.  Check out the new website!

If you or someone you know would like to learn more about getting organized and how working with a Professional Organizer can enhance your life…check out the new site.  There are two short videos that talk to “What Organizers Do” and “Getting Organized.”  There are also links to client case studies.  You will see you are not alone and there are solutions out there.  There is also a set of tips to help you get started and/or motivated.  Want more tips?  Continue read or subscribe to this blog or log onto my website.

There are over 4,200 of us Professional Organizer… and last year we taught thousands of clients how to be better organized.

What really is a Professional Organizer or as I like to say…Personal Organizer?

A professional organizer enhances the lives of clients by designing systems and processes using organizing principles through transferring organizational skills.  They provide information, products and/or assistance to help others meet their organizing needs.  An organizers will guide, encourage and educate clients about organizing by offering support, focus and direction.

Be cautious of people on sites like Craig’s list offering supper cheap services.  When looking to hire someone, hire an expert, a NAPO member.

Happy viewing!

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Games of all sorts are a great source of entertainment!  I think many of us have forgotten this with the popularity of video games, texting, social media sites and endless channels of nothing on TV.

Board and card games are great for young and old alike.  Besides having fun,  kids can learn skills such as concentration, focus, patience, taking tuns and math to name a few.  For older folks, we keep hearing medical reports stating how important it is to keep the mind active so to avoid cognitive issues.  Games can help!

Ok, here is the organizer in me coming out…

  • Regularly review what games that are played.  Especially if a child has outgrown it.
  • Donate or toss ones of little interest.  If you donate, make sure all the pieces are there — the charity will check!
  • Store all games together.  In some cases by child in their rooms makes sense.
  • Ziploc bags can be great to use inside a box to keep small the pieces contained and organized.
  • Store smaller games and playing cards in clear containers.

Having difficulty storing because of the game box sides are broken?  Hard to stack because they are different sizes?  Check out the Game Savers Box!  Created with just these challenges in mind, these plastic boxes come in various sizes to store the board and pieces to our most popular games such as Monopoly, Risk, Colorforms, etc.  These sturdy boxes close tight and make it easy to stack and store.

Have fun organizing the toys and next time when you are with friends or family and think “there is nothing to do” pull out a game and have a blast!

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I’ve thought a lot about photography lately.  For fun, learning more about my camera, and also how photography can be used with clients.

Organizing

When we see our spaces day to day, we lose the detail.  For some folks, they just focus on small areas of a space, the rest is a blurr.  Want a fresh look at how your space really looks?  How much clutter is there, or not?  Take a picture.  It gives you a different perspective on the space.  You get to see how it looks to others.

Home Staging

If you are getting ready to put your house up for sale, this is a great exercise.  I was just preparing a presentation on Home Staging and looked at area homes being marketed on the web.  You could not image how unattractive, how not relevant, how, can I say outright bad most of these photos were?

First take pictures to see what others see.  Use this as  guide when organizing and staging your house for sale.  Once this is done, make sure the photos that you or your Realtor use on-line will enhance the house.  They are just not photos on your listing.  They are the  marketing of your house.  Consider it an on-line brochure.  You want to photograph the highlights of the structure, the room layouts, etc.

I was amazed when in a listing that only used a handful of pictures to market the house, one photo they chose was a picture of 2 bureaus.  Not the room,1 corner with bureaus.  It looked like a Craig’s list ad to sell the furniture, not a marketing presentation of a home. Other photos were taken behind large pieces of furniture, bright pink furniture actually.  So instead of seeing the room, you see a big pink blob.  Then there was the blurry one of 1/2 a chandelier and the ceiling.  I am thinking people looking at these listings on line are not going to make an effort to make an appointment to see this property.  Remember two things about prospective buyers.  Their time is precious and first impressions are made in “seconds.”

Time to grab your camera.

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