By: Barbara Reich and Erica Keswin, Founders of Never Caught Up, LLC
Every year, as the weather grows warmer, there’s a flurry of interest in spring cleaning. Morning television segments, news articles, and blog posts will all feature the latest organizing tips, cleaning short cuts, and advice on how to get to those hard-to-reach areas. That spring cleaning is “business as usual.” But, there’s another kind of spring cleaning that no one talks about…that is, spring cleaning your friends.
Continue reading “The Spring Cleaning No One Talks About” »
A few months ago I was on hold with a telecommunications company when the recorded voice announced that the wait time would be three minutes. I thought, “Great. I can put my phone on speaker mode while I take a quick shower.” As I reflect on this now, I’m still not sure if this was a testament to my efficiency, or a pathetic reflection of how busy I was.
Continue reading “Efficient or Overwhelmed?” »
After more than a decade of organizing people’s homes and offices, there are certain things that I’ve often wished never existed. The ubiquity of these, and the speed at which I do away with them, has me convinced that the world would truly be a better place if I never saw another one. Sounds harsh, but read on, and I’m sure you’ll agree. Here are my top ten:
Continue reading “Eliminate These and Make the World a Better Place” »
What does every mom REALLY want for mother’s day? It’s not breakfast in bed, it’s not flowers, and it’s not a new kitchen appliance. What she really wants is more time, more hours in the day, and the feeling, at least for a few minutes, of being caught up. Caught up with all of the emails, endless forms that need to be filled out, loads of laundry, and to do lists. Caught up with her friends and what’s going on in their lives, and caught up with herself. That is what would make her happy.
Continue reading “What Moms Really Want: Mother’s Day Gift Guide” »
Everyone has clutter, even the most organized person. The reasons behind the clutter; however, are different for each person. What does your clutter say about your personality? Are you…
1. UNABLE TO MAKE A DECISION?
Many people hold onto things/clutter because it’s easier then deciding whether or not to keep it or where it should go. In fact, an entire organizing industry has arisen to meet the demands of this group. Often, they’ll label and contain instead of eliminating.
2. A PROCRASTINATOR?
This group of people constantly put off sorting/purging their things because it’s not fun or enjoyable to them. They would rather do ANYTHING other then pare down possessions, so they never get around to it.
3. EXTREMELY SENTIMENTAL?
This personality type thinks EVERYTHING is worth saving…every scribble from their child’s nursery school days, every photo (even blurry ones), every dish, and every item of clothing.
4. SEVERELY TIME CHALLENGED?
Many people don’t have difficulty making decisions and they’re not procrastinators or overly sentimental. This group of people is so stretched for time, they simply can’t get it done. When they do have a block of time, they easily and happily de-clutter. It just doesn’t happen often enough.
Many of my clients believe that if they save certain items, one day they’ll become the type of person that uses them. I hate to say it, but in my experience, it doesn’t happen like that. Instead, these things tend to lie around FOR YEARS without ever getting any use. If you’ve had any of these items lying around for one year, five years, or ten years, it’s finally time to use it or lose it!
- Baby Clothes: If you aren’t having another one, it’s time to donate old baby clothing. The same goes for the toys and games your children have outgrown.
- Clothes That Don’t Reflect Your Lifestyle: If you haven’t worked in corporate America for years, there’s no reason to have a wardrobe of conservative suits. If you aren’t having another baby, purge all maternity clothes.
- “Cute” Clothes for Kids: Instead of saving these for special occasions, have your child wear them and wear them often. Expensive children’s clothing is outgrown so quickly, why leave it sitting in a drawer?
- The Skinny Phase Clothes: If your weight fluctuates, keep clothing for a realistic range of weights. One size bigger or one size smaller should be enough. And, if you do lose a ton of weight and didn’t save your “skinny” clothes, don’t you deserve a little shopping spree?
- Old Purses: If they’re sitting in the back of your closet, consider consigning ones with value and donating the rest.
- Extra Large Kitchen Appliances: If you haven’t used them, or can’t figure out how to use them, it may be time to get rid of the bread maker, ice cream maker, fondue fountain, and anything else taking up unnecessary space in your kitchen.
- Distilled Spirits: Go through your liquor cabinet, and only keep alcohol you might drink or serve to guests. Keep in mind that open bottles can lose their flavor after multiple years, so purge those as well.
- Fine china and silver: If you have it, find an occasion to use it!
- Photos: Put them on display, create photo books, or save them to the Cloud. They’re useless sitting in piles or boxes, where they may get damaged.
- Home Decor Pieces: Souvenirs from vacation or art that your spouse hates…if it’s not going to be put on the walls any time soon…it shouldn’t be kept anywhere else.
Smart Organization for Smart Living
For Professional Organizer Barbara Reich of Resourceful Consultants, eliminating clutter is a way of life. Barbara tackles organization with a 360-degree approach, streamlining the homes, schedules and daily lives of discerning clients. Equal parts affable and type A personality, Barbara’s tough-love approach yields real results and lasting change.
Templates for Handwritten Notes
In this age of email and digital greeting cards, it sometimes feels like the handwritten note is a dying art. Yet, there are still those rare occasions when only a handwritten note will do. In case you find yourself struggling for the words to write, here are some templates in three sentences or less that can help you out.
Thank You Card:
Sentence 1. Thank you for the ______. (insert the name of the item or experience).
Sentence 2. I look forward to using it for ______ / I thoroughly enjoyed ______. (Make a personal reference to how you plan to enjoy the gift or note a memory from the event).
Sentence 3. It was so nice of you to think of me.
All the Best,
Sentence 1. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of _______. (insert name of person or relationship of person)
Sentence 2. S/he was ______ and will be greatly missed. (Mention one special trait of the deceased).
Sentence 3. Please let me know if there’s any way I can help you during this difficult time.
Sentence 1. Happy Birthday!
Sentence 2. I hope you have a great day, and a wonderful year ahead.
Sentence 3. You’re a special person/friend, and you deserve it! (Give one short, personal complement to personalize it).
Sentence 1. Congratulations on ______! (specify the accomplishment).
Sentence 2. What wonderful news. I am so excited for you!
Sentence 3. I hope the future continues to bring you as much success and happiness.
All the Best,
Get Well Card:
Sentence 1. I am so sorry to hear that you haven’t been feeling well.
Sentence 2. I hope you have a quick recovery.
Sentence 3. Please let me know if there’s any way I can help you during this difficult time.
In my book, Secrets of an Organized Mom, I compare the lives of mothers to one big game of Whac-a-Mole. Just when we’ve smacked down one problem or responsibility, another one pokes up its stubborn head. Let’s face it; life as a mother is inevitably unpredictable. Just when we think we have everything under control, a child breaks a leg, a partner gets a new job (in another state), or a roof springs a leak. So much rests on our shoulders that it’s easy to see why we’re all running on a treadmill to stay still. It’s a classic catch 22. If we could just find the time to get organized, life would be calm and peaceful. But life is never calm and peaceful, so there’s never time to get organized.
Moms often ask me for the single organizing tip that will make the biggest difference in their lives. In Secrets of An Organized Mom, I talk about the “Ten Commandments of Organizing”. Although all of these commandments are important, there are three tips that, taken together, can help busy moms conquer the organizational challenge once and for all.
- Routines work. If you always put your cell phone in the same pocket of your purse, you’ll always know where it is when it’s ringing. If you always put the bills in the same place, you won’t lose any bills. If you always take medication at the same time in the same place, you won’t forget to take it. When things are done the same way every time, the behavior becomes rote. You don’t have to think about what you’re doing. This is the fool-proof way to avoid misplacing anything or forgetting anything again.
- Group like things together, and designate a place for everything. This is the only way to know how much of something you have and when you need more. You’ll also always know exactly where to find what you’re looking for. This applies to everything in your house, from black sweaters to magic markers to batteries. This will help you avoid having too much of one thing and not enough of what you really need!
- Store things where you use them. Keep school supplies where your kids do their homework, keep your reading glasses next to your bed where you read at night, and keep tote bags in the closet where you store sports equipment. It’s easy and convenient!
There’s nothing worse than rummaging through your purse, looking for your cell phone, while someone watches, witness to your disorganization, as you miss a phone call. When your purse is organized, you’ll feel in control and more powerful. So, here are some tips for organizing your purse:
• Never buy a bag that doesn’t have at least two internal pockets. You need one for your cell phone, and one for keys and other items that you reach for often.
• Avoid bags with dark linings. It’s very difficult to find things when they’re inside a dark bag.
• Use brightly colored cosmetic bags for smaller items such as lip gloss, band aids, and ibuprofen.
• Carry only what you truly need. Bags get heavy, so eliminate what’s unnecessary. You don’t need 5 pens, 2 phone chargers, or 6 packs of gum.
• Don’t save unimportant receipts. Don’t clutter your bag with Starbucks receipts and the receipts from the dry cleaner.
• Carry store credits in your bag. You can’t use them if they’re home in your night table drawer.
• Make a photocopy of everything in your wallet (front and back). In the unfortunate event that your wallet is stolen, you’ll have a record of what you’re missing and which credit card companies you need to call.
How many times has this happened to you?
You find yourself with the phone tucked between your ear and shoulder, on hold for an eternity, multi-tasking while you wait, and think: There must be a more efficient way to get what I want.
Well, there is. It’s called cracking down on service providers who aren’t providing service.
I recently called a local caterer to order a holiday dinner. I was calling about their business during business hours. I was told they would have to call me back. Ok, maybe they were busy at that moment, but I would have expected a call back within 24 hours. The next afternoon, I realized I hadn’t heard back, so I called a second time. Again, I was told that they would have to call me back. I asked if they could just look up my order from last year (and the previous four years). I was told that wasn’t possible, but I could order online. I replied that I was happy to order online, but I had a quick question. They were very sorry, but the only person with the answer would have to call me back. I’m sorry, is this high school? Is the caterer playing hard to get? Are they joking? I was done. When they finally called me back the next day, I had already found another caterer.
Here’s the bottom line: my time is valuable, and I have too little of it to spend it chasing down service providers. This month I have resolved to eliminate any service provider that requires more than one phone call, who wastes my time, or is otherwise not providing service.
Here are just a few infuriating service provider snafus I’ve experienced recently.
The Four Hour Window
Remember the last time you were given a FOUR HOUR “window of time” for a repair person? When I make appointments, I don’t tell someone that I’ll be there between 12:00 and 4:00; I give them a specific time. And to add insult to injury, often these so called service people are either early or late. If a service provider offers a window of time, is it not common courtesy to show up at some point in the window? That’s how a window works. You can’t come an hour early—I’m not home! The window is closed! The same goes for showing up late—in both cases you have to reschedule, and that, my friends, is another phone call. Eliminate that service provider!
Waiting When You Have a Reservation
What about when you go to a restaurant with a reservation, and they tell you your table isn’t ready? Isn’t the whole point of a reservation that you will get to the restaurant at the appointed time and NOT wait? There are lots of great restaurants that do honor reservations, so don’t stand for the ones that don’t!
Your Doctor’s Waiting Room
One of the most frustrating and prevalent misuses of time occurs in the dreaded waiting room at doctors’ offices. I refuse to wait in the Waiting Room. If I wanted to read Highlights Magazine and listen to Lite.fm I could do it on my own time. It is so unacceptable to be left waiting when you have an appointment. I understand that doctors, unlike most other service providers, actually have real emergencies. Yet, shouldn’t the doctor’s office call you if s/he is running more than a few minutes late? My strategy is to schedule the first or last appointment of the day. The first appointment is guaranteed to be on time, and by the last appointment, your doctor wants to go home. If you still find yourself in the waiting room for too long, find another doctor!
Taxi Cab Drivers That Take You Out of Your Way
Isn’t it the responsibility of the taxi cab driver to take you to your destination the most direct way possible? How many times have you been in a taxi, fully immersed in your phone/email, when you look up to find you’ve been taken out of your way? It’s infuriating. And, it’s impossible to know whether the driver did this intentionally or just didn’t hear you (even though you repeated the address at least three times). The solution…tell the driver to stop the meter, and do NOT give a tip!
What’s the most annoying service provider snafu you’ve encountered? Let me know…I’d love to hear from you!