How to Reduce Clutter – Sentimental Items Reduce clutter if you want to simplify your life. Clutter takes up valuable space, is expensive to move, and most times you don’t even look at all of it. Many Professional Organizers like myself will tell you to declutter sentimental items last because it is more emotional and detailed work. What types of sentimental items create clutter for you? Photographs, slides, videos Collectibles, souvenirs Trophies, plaques, awards Children’s art work Baby clothes, toys Wedding gifts Birthday and special occasion cards, old letters and postcards If you want to reduce clutter from the sentimental items you’ve held on to for years you are not alone.According to therapist Dr. Robin Zasio, “Sometimes it feels like we should save things simply because they were given to us, not because they’re meaningful or useful.” (2011). We hang on to sentimental items because we feel a sense of responsibility and anticipated guilt if we let them go. These items sit in boxes, storage containers, albums and baskets. They take up space in cupboards, on shelves, garage floors, space under the beds, in closets…all of which could be clutter-free. Imagine what that space could be used for (or not,) if it were clear! At a time when many of us are thinking about simplifying our lives and downsizing our homes it is useful to revisit which items you really want and need to keep. You literally can’t take them all with you if you plan to move to a smaller house and travel more. If you have difficulty letting go of sentimental items here are some organizing tips designed to get you started: Limit the quantity Display them Repurpose them Limit quantity to reduce clutter- be realistic As your San Diego Personal and Professional Organizer I want to assure… read more →
How to Reduce Clutter As your San Diego Personal and Professional Organizer I’ll be blunt… to reduce clutter you need to take action. You already know the reasons (and excuses) why you don’t let go of stuff. I can assure you that guilt, fear, and distorted thinking can prevent any one of us from letting go of the things that we don’t need, use or want. Yet having things pile up, collect dust, attract moths or silverfish, stress us out, cause shame and make us feel badly about ourselves can motivate you to get help. Taking action means changing your thoughts, behaviors and even the way that you speak. Do any of these sound familiar? “I have to have that.” “You can never have to many of these.” “I know that I’ll get a lot of use out of this.” “It’s such a good buy.” “If I don’t like it I can return it.” When shopping is your problem If you can declutter on your own or with the help of a non-judgmental relative or friend consider trying any of the following decluttering and organizing tips: Return it – most stores will take back never used or worn items. You may not get the full amount back. Instead you may get a partial refund or store credit. Congratulate yourself for letting go without self judgment. Use this as an opportunity to be more intentional about your purchases. Resell it – online sites are great for reselling new and gently used items. Be realistic with your pricing. Scrutinize the buyers’ payment method (no checks) and method of delivery or pickup (not in your home, especially if you are alone). Consignment shops always take a percentage of the sale but can be a less time consuming method for resale. Donate it –… read more →
Organizing clothing clutter Organizing clothing clutter is especially difficult for some people. The top 5 reasons people tell their San Diego Professional Organizer they can’t let go of clothing: It used to fit; I hope it will fit again – “I’m hoping to wear it again when I lose those extra pounds.” Sentimental value; good memories – “I remember how happy I was when I wore that.” It can be repaired – “I can get that stain out. I keep meaning to get it altered. I can use it for something else. My favorite: I can wear it at home.” It cost a lot to purchase – “I spent a lot on it. “I have no where to wear it but I spent a lot of money on it. I feel guilty getting rid of it.” “I may need it…for an interview, formal event, funeral, etc.” How to organize your clothing and get rid of clothing clutter: What you will need: A full length mirror, a 3-way if possible For women: a bra with excellent support for when you try tops and dresses on Bags or bins for each of the following: hangers to recycle, donating, consignments, alterations An honest friend, family member or Image and Wardrobe Consultant A hanger stand for the extra hangers you are keeping Wardrobe Organizing Tips – How to declutter your wardrobe: Schedule adequate time on a specific day to begin the process Start with the easy decisions – let go of items that you know you will not wear again Try on each bottom – pants, shorts, jeans, skirts. Do they fit your current body shape? Are they comfortable? Do they fit your current lifestyle? Try on each top – coats, jackets, shirts, blouses, sweaters, tee shirts, camisoles. Ask yourself the same questions.… read more →
Organizing Sentimental Items As a Professional Organizer I know that organizing sentimental items is challenging for many of you. This is especially true during the purging stage when you are deciding what to keep and what to let go of. Remember that the benefits of organizing anything, including sentimental items, is that you are able to revisit fond memories. The question is why do we let sentimental items become clutter? The reasons are usually emotional: Fear Guilt Attachment Perceived emotional value Perceived financial value Fear When organizing, some people fear that letting go of a sentimental item is a sign of disrespect, or that they will forget the person or event the item reminds them of. Organizing Tip: If you really don’t want or need the item take a photo of it and add the photo to your other photos of that person or the event. Then donate the item. If you aren’t ready to let it go, display the item next to a framed photo. Guilt Items that are passed down through families aren’t always valued by later generations. Even though, some of us feel guilty letting go of family heirlooms. As a Professional Organizer I don’t think that it is fair or reasonable to tell someone not to feel guilty. It is something that the person will have to decide. Organizing Tip: If you really do not want the item try packing it away and letting a friend or relative hold on to it. Set a time frame for when you will be ready to let it go. If feelings of guilt arise during that time frame retrieve the item and find a way to use it or display it. Attachment If sentimental items bring you pleasure that is sufficient reason to keep them. Organizing Tip: You don’t… read more →
Paper Clutter Paper clutter can easily sneak up on you. Paper clutter isn’t limited to your office either. I’ve seen paper clutter in: Bathrooms Garages Kitchens Bedrooms Cars Backpacks Purses Closets As your San Diego Personal and Professional Organizer I suggest that you organize by room and focus on paperwork, only. Schedule 30 minutes on a specific date, at a specific time to: Discard, recycle, shred Sort, file Purge old files & papers. Which types of paper clutter drive you crazy? Let’s identify the culprits… Receipts Unopened mail Catalogs Unread piles of magazines Stacks of newspapers Unclipped and/or expired coupons; circulars Business cards Handouts from meetings, conferences Papers your children bring home from school Never ending to-do lists, notes Unused notepads Unpurged files Old tax records Boarding passes, tickets, maps In my series, “Things I’d Rather Die With” I’m going to give you lots of organizing tips to help you to get rid of clutter. I came across a terrific article that will help you with some ideas about how to declutter your paper situation: Taming Paper Let me know what you do to reduce the amount of paper in your life by posting on Outside In Organizer and Makeovers on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
Clutter…Is it Ruining Your Love Life? Take it from your San Diego Personal & Professional Organizer, clutter and organizing do not mix. Clutter can cause: Stress in your relationships Feelings of incompetence or shame Wasted time looking for important items & papers Health & safety hazards. Don’t let clutter ruin your love life. The benefits of organizing are that it establishes systems and routines that help you continue to declutter and stay organized. Unlike your love life, when it comes to your “stuff”, variety isn’t always the spice of life. If you are always looking for items such as your keys, glasses or important papers here are some of my Organizing Do’s and Don’t s. Check out my previous blog: 7 Clutter Prevention Tips Clutter Do’s: Have a dedicated place for everything. Read Dorothy Breininger’s blog: Organizing Your Entryway for more organizing tips. Put items in back in the same place every time. It doesn’t matter where that place is as long as it makes sense to you and you are consistent in using it. Have a back up. Examples: Keep spare eyeglasses in specific rooms as well as your vehicle. Keep spare keys in a safe place. Schedule time to reduce clutter on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. Clutter Don’t s: Change purses frequently. Organizing Tip: If you “must”, use one of those inserts to organize your purse. Purchase more than you need. That contributes to clutter. Rely on shopping for something you know that you have and cannot find. Get frustrated or self critical. Mindful Organizing Tip: When you are looking for the item & cannot find it, pause, take a breath, and mentally retrace where you last saw/had it. Mindlessly drop or pile items just anywhere. Mindful Organizing Tip: Return items intentionally to their “homes”.
Clutter Trouble? What is all that clutter about? You want to let it go but something is holding you back. If you are truly troubled by the clutter that you are surrounded with it’s time to take this quiz. Don’t worry, it’s confidential. Go ahead and check all the following that apply to you: It’s difficult for me to let go of, or get rid of things, in general. I can’t let go of sentimental items and photos, specifically. I’m not ready to get rid of this. I’m worried that if I let it go I will need it later. I feel guilty when I get rid of things. I can’t let go of things that I spent a lot of money on. I’m saving it for my children (or grandchildren). You can never have enough. I don’t have too many things, I just need more storage space. I can’t afford to hire a Professional Organizer. I tried working with a Professional Organizer and it didn’t work. I’m embarrassed ask for help. I’ll never get organized. I’ve always been this way. I know that it looks cluttered but I can usually find what I am looking for. If I don’t find what I am looking for I buy another one. My mother (or another relative) was a hoarder. I’m just like her. I don’t have time to organize. I need at least a whole day (a week, a month, etc.) to organize and I’m too busy. I’ll do it when I have time. Organizing is boring. Clutter is a common problem for many people. Uncovering how it affects you and everyone that you live with is the first step. After that, you need to have an action plan and seriously consider asking for help from someone you can trust. Here… read more →
7 Clutter-preventing strategies My 7 clutter-preventing strategies are not necessarily fun or easy. They DO work and I know that you can do it if you practice regularly. The benefits of organizing make it worth it! Each strategy can be practiced for 2-8 weeks before you take on the next. Don’t sabotage yourself by setting unrealistic goals Also, allow for back-sliding. This can happen whenever you are creating new Optimal Habits. From your San Diego Personal and Professional Organizer: Daily de-cluttering. Schedule 15 minutes at the end of every day to de-clutter 1 area. Weekly de-cluttering. Schedule 30 minutes every week to de-clutter and organize. Shop no more. Commit to 2 weeks of no shopping (except for food). Donate immediately. Forget the collection bag. Don’t let donations sit in a pile, bag or your car. Donate immediately. Consign now. Make quick decisions. If you don’t like it, wear it, or use it and it’s in good repair…consign it. Return it. If it’s unopened or never worn return it. If you have multiples of items that you rarely use, return them. Get rid of big containers. Big, deep containers are a magnet for clutter. Unless they are large items that require larger storage, there is no need for big containers. My organizing tips are meant to guide and encourage you with getting and staying organized. Be patient and keep your intention and actions set on your goals. Avoid self criticism and defeating remarks such as, “I’m such a mess”. “I can never stay organized”. “I’m just like my (name of family member)”. “It will just come back, why bother?” Think and say statements that focus on your successes and strengths. Have you read my book of simple inspirational statements for organizing and time management? It make a great gift for yourself… read more →
Organization Skills You have the organization skills that you need, everyone does. So how do you get started organizing? Plan, prepare, schedule time to organize, and employ my “1-at-a-time rule”. Looking at the before and after photos of the office that I worked in recently you can immediately see the big and little differences that organizing creates. As your San Diego Professional Organizer my goal is always to teach and empower, not just do the organizing for you. That’s no fun! First, we scheduled a date and time to work together. During that first session we confirmed our plan. In a 3-4 hour block of time you can’t do it all so I needed to know what the client’s goals and priorities were. To prepare we needed a large space to gather items that were alike (we used the floor in the adjacent room). We also needed containers for recycling, shredding, discards and donations. Preparation also includes adequate ventilation and hydration (we work up a sweat). Once we get to work it’s my job as the professional to ask the right questions. These questions enable you to decide what to keep and what to let go of. Since I don’t own the items and am not emotionally attached to them in any way I can remain calm and neutral for the client. A trained Personal/Professional Organizer knows how to guide you through questioning, gathering information, and offering options for the client. After some time it becomes easier and quicker for the client to make those decisions. When you use my 1-at-a-time rule you are able to see results quickly because you are not scattered, you are focused. Always get rid of the clutter in your space first because you do not want to store and organize items that are no… read more →
Organizing Tips for travel and vacation: Your San Diego Personal and Professional Organizer’s Organizing tips for vacation…while you are enjoying the trip: 1. Declutter: You can reduce the clutter that you bring home! Take photos of business cards from shops and restaurants and leave the cards behind. Load the info into your contacts. 2. Organize your photos: Taking photos with your phone? Each night, email them as attachments to yourself, include date, time and place. They will be ready to upload on your computer when you arrive home. 3. Weight reduction: Like to read on vacation? Bringing books adds unnecessary weight. Invest in an e-reader with a no-glare screen. Save your back, neck and shoulders. Eliminate extra charges for excess baggage weight. 4. Reduce stress: Utilize the auto reply message to notify senders that you are out of the office and will return calls, emails when you return (provide a date 1 day after you return). Hey, send me a postcard and let me know how these organizing tips worked! Better yet, post it on the Outside In Organizer and Makeovers Facebook page.