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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…Or Not

· Holiday · , , , , , , , , , ,

The time between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve can be the most festive, but also the most stressful time of the year. Between holiday parties, work events, shopping for gifts, eating too much and spending too much, sometimes we wish we could skip the entire season. But since that’s not an option, here are some guidelines to help you feel more in control this holiday season.

Addressing Email Overload

· Digital Decluttering / Technology · , , , , , , , , ,

From CEO’s to soccer moms, we’re all overwhelmed by the volume of emails received each day. Studies show that the average person checks a device approximately 150 times during waking hours. Still, it seems that we can never catch up. If you feel stressed just thinking about your inbox, here are some tips to tame the email beast.

  1. Create a digital filing system. Filing emails reduces visual noise and eliminates wasted time re-reading emails already opened. It also facilitates emptying your email box on a daily basis (getting to “in-box zero”).
  1. Search messages by name. Using the search box, type in the names of your boss, important colleagues, and frequent correspondents. This will help you categorize and file emails in a meaningful way. Most emails more than a week old are probably irrelevant and can be deleted.
  1. Don’t save emails as a visual cue to take action. Unless you have white space on the bottom of your computer screen, a saved email is just clutter.
  1. Touch each email only once. Avoid opening emails multiple times without responding. Make a decision about how it will be handled (delete or file) and move forward.
  1. Any time you receive an unwanted email, take a few seconds to unsubscribe so you never see it again.

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Digital Photo Organizing

· Digital Decluttering / Technology · , , , , , , , , ,

According to a recent study by Sparefoot and APPO, the average person has 10,000 to 15,000 photos. While it’s amazing that smart phones have allowed us to capture our every day moments so easily, I constantly hear people complain that they can’t find a picture when they need it. Similar to those boxes or bags of photos you never put in albums way back when, digital photos can cause you stress and frustration if they’re not filed properly. So here’s what can you do to organize your digital photos. . .

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Fruits & Veggies

You Are What You Eat

· Kitchen / Nutrition · , , , , , , , ,

Over the past several months, I’ve organized several kitchens with my colleague, Lara Metz. One of the issues we’ve been seeing repeatedly is the duplication of items in the refrigerator and pantry. Here’s our advice on how to avoid this in your kitchen:

  1. Start by purging all of the foods that have expired in both your refrigerator and pantry. This should be done on a weekly basis prior to going to the grocery store. Then, in an accessible area, stoIMG_7634re a pad or a white board to keep a running list of what needs to be replaced. Let your family know that this is everyone’s responsibility, not just yours, so even children are in the habit of adding to the list when they take the last bag of pretzels.
  2. In order to maintain organization, group all similar items together. In both the kitchen and pantry, there should be zones for different food categories. In the refrigerator, take advantage of built in compartments. For example, put all fruit in the fruit drawer and produce in the produce drawer. Then, store your products in straight lines with like items one behind the other.
  3. Use organizing products that will make your refrigerator and pantry functional and look great. Here are some of our favorites:

Studies suggest that people reach for what they see first, so to encourage wellness in your home, position fruit and healthy snacks at eye level.

When a Storage Unit is a Good Idea

· Home Improvement / Decor · , , , , , , , , ,

Over the past few months, I’ve had a number of clients ask me for help organizing storage units. Some clients have multiple storage units and some have just one. In some cases, the storage units are complimentary perks that come with apartments, and, in other cases, exorbitant fees are paid. Sometimes, the client knows exactly what’s stored in the unit and wants to make it less cluttered or more appealing. And sometimes, the items have been put away for years, and the client has no idea what s/he will find there. While I generally believe that a client is better off purging and living within his/her space means, here are some instances when a storage unit is a good idea:

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Finding Your Inner Peace Before the Holiday Frenzy Begins

· Holiday · , , ,

Between agitating over the perennial what to wear, where to go, what to buy, how to pay, and why you ate so much, the time between Thanksgiving and New’s Year can be filled with high-octane stress.

However, there are safe ways to self-medicate that have nothing to do with booze, pills or acute psychotherapy.  Here, I’ve streamlined some of the easiest to swallow, tackle and take effect organizing tips that will leave you feeling calmer, more in control and believe it or not — more festive this holiday season.

  1. Clean out your underwear drawer.  Anything ripped or saggy goes straight in the trash.  Then, move the sassy to the front, and you might end up wearing them!
  2. Throw out any and all pens or markers in your house that are out of ink.  If you have kids, make it a game for them to hunt, peck and test out the goods.  Once you’ve grouped them together, you’ll likely to find that you DON’T need to restock anytime soon.
  3. Don’t just look in that medicine cabinet — throw out every prescription or medication that has outlived its expiration date.  Not only will you have more room for great creams (go ahead, buy yourself a new one now that you have room!), but your skin may be more luminous for having invested this time.
  4. Audit your electronics.  Loose wires, old chargers and extra remotes do not make for lovely object d’art.  Chuck with bravado.  The odds that you will need them again, are the odds that Kim Kardashian married for love.
  5. Clean out your fridge and pantry.  Expired goods, crusty-almost-done jelly jars, anything unrecognizable —out!  You may not actually lose weight in doing this — but your kitchen sure as heck will.
  6. Bid adieu to all of your mismatched socks.  They’ve been hanging around all year waiting for their sole mate.  If a sock’s mate hasn’t appeared yet, it’s gone for good.

Commit to just a few of these, and I promise you’ll feel more in control and less overwhelmed!  Happy holiday!

Hand Me Downs…A Blessing or Curse?

· Children / Teens · , , , ,

Last Tuesday, at 6:45 AM, my house descended into chaos.  It was game day for my soccer-playing son, and on game days, athletes need to wear khaki pants to school.  As it happened, the same pants that had fit just three weeks before were way too short.  And if you have a teenager, you’ll understand that somehow, this was all my fault!  I half heartedly tried to convince him that the pants were fine, since he didn’t have a choice other than to wear them, until I remembered the box of hand me downs from his cousin at the top of his closet.  Disaster was averted, as I pulled out a pair of khaki pants in just the right size.  Lesson learned…if you have a teenage son, always have the next size ready to go just in case you’re faced with a rapid growth spurt, as I was that morning.

When you’re super organized, hand me downs can be a blessing.  You can save a ton of money and avoid buying the items that are worn infrequently.  On the other hand, if you’re the type that is likely to forget what you have only to realize your child outgrew the beautiful, almost new clothes a friend gave you before you remembered where they were, the hand me downs are a curse.  In this case, they just take up space, are stored for years, and then frustrate you when you find them.  So, if you want to avoid the curse of the hand me downs, here are some simple tips to follow.

  1. Have set times of the year when you pull out the hand me downs to see what fits.  The best times to do this are in August before buying new clothes for school, in April before buying new clothes for spring and summer, and in December just as things are getting a bit small.
  2. Only keep things that are in good condition. Sometimes, well-meaning friends who just want the bags out of their own homes, don’t check the quality of what they’re giving.  Make sure nothing is torn, stained, or otherwise in disrepair before you store the clothing.
  3. Consider the amount of time you’ll need to save the clothing before it will fit your child.  If you only need to store the clothing for a year or two or even three, then by all means take it.  But, if you’re looking at holding onto the clothing for many years, be much more discriminating about what you take.
  4. The best hand me downs are the seldom worn blazer, outerwear, and the special occasion dress.  Not as worthy…nylon athletic shorts and t-shirts that are relatively inexpensive when new.
  5. Contain and label the hand me downs.  For example, use stackable containers with labels like “Winter, Size 4”.
  6. If you need to return the clothing to the giver after your child wears them, think twice.  The effort involved here may be too much to justify keeping the clothes.

 

Downsizing Tips

· Moving · , , , ,

I was profiled in this month’s AARP magazine, and the article talked about helping seniors downsize.  Here are my top 10 tips and a link to the article (http://www.resourcefulconsultants.com/images/aarp-august-2014.pdf).

  1. Other people’s memories are not your responsibility.  If your great aunt’s sterling silver tea set has become an albatross, it’s time to donate it or sell it.  If your children are grown, it’s time for them to start storing their own childhood artifacts.    It doesn’t mean you love your family any less; it’s just not your burden.
  2. Work in 2-3 hour blocks of time, focusing on one area at a time.  More then that can be overwhelming and you won’t be as productive. Don’t try to tackle the whole house, but instead tackle a desk drawer or a closet.
  3. Use your new space as a guide.  Measure how much storage space you’ll have, and let that dictate your decisions.  If you’re not going to have room for something, you simply can’t keep it.
  4. Keep “maybes” to a minimum.  Touch it once, make a decision, and move on.  Moving items in and out of “maybe” piles is emotionally draining and time consuming.
  5. If a memory is worth preserving, treat it as such.  Random boxes of pictures aren’t compelling; an album of pictures (whether digital or a book) tell a story that can be enjoyed.
  6. Group like things together.  It’s the only way you’ll know that you have 4 hammers, 3 spatulas, and 6 boxes of staples (5,000 per box).  Donate what you don’t need and keep the best of the rest.
  7. Discard what’s expired.  This includes that box of muffin mix that you’ve had since 2009 and the 10 pack of pain reliever you bought on sale that’s long since past its “use by” date.
  8. Ignore sunk costs.  What you paid for something has no bearing on whether it should have a place in your life.   Whether you love it and want it is far more relevant.
  9. Your clothing should reflect your current life, not the life you used to live.  If you’ve retired to Florida, you don’t need a closet full of business suits, whether they still fit you or not.  If you’re no longer a size 4, you don’t need a wardrobe of small clothes to remind you that you’ve gained weight
  10. 10. Your possessions should reflect your current life, not the imaginary life you hope to lead.  If you haven’t built a dark room yet, it’s time to stop storing all the items you would need just in case.