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.
Does your limited thinking create clutter? Limited thinking about your ability to get organized and stay organized will prevent you from taking action, including getting help from a Professional Organizer. If you don’t believe that you can be an organized person it will likely create negative emotions. Clutter in your environment and your schedule has a negative impact on your confidence, productivity, and health. In the book, “Clutter Busting”, author Brooks Palmer describes how clutter can keep some people from feeling their emotions: “It acts as an emotional insulator in the same way that drugs and booze do. Like a drink, it wears off, and then you have to acquire more to be numb. Clutter buries you alive.” Clutter may keep you from feeling your emotions temporarily, but it is akin to putting a Band-Aid on a large open wound. It’s an ineffective and superficial way to mask something deeper. Trust me, the feelings which will eventually seep to the surface. See if any of this limited thinking and negative emotions sounds familiar. Ask yourself questions such as: • Guilt – Were you taught to believe that letting go of things is wrong or wasteful? • Lack of confidence – Did you think that by acquiring things you would feel more admired and less inadequate? • Low self-esteem – Did you learn that doing everything yourself rather than asking for assistance was a sign of dependence? • Failure – Do you feel like a failure and that you should be able to be organized without assistance? • Shame – Do you avoid inviting people into your space and worry about their judgment? • Attention issues – Are often exhausted and lack mental energy and focus? • All or none thinking – Do you believe that if you can’t organize it… read more →
Which of your habits and behaviors contribute to clutter? We all have a plethora of behaviors that contribute to either being organized or to causing clutter. If you always put things back in their place when you are done using them that will of course help you stay organized. The benefits of this one organizing tip is that you will know where the item is when you need it again, be able to find it quickly, and know whether or not you have enough of that item or it needs to be replenished. If you leave things out or put them in any old place it will contribute to clutter, it’s just that simple. As a Personal Organizer I ask my clients why they have so many duplicates of the same items and they often reply that when they couldn’t find the item so they just bought more. That’s an expensive habit. There is physical clutter (too much stuff) and there is also a cluttered life…mental clutter and poor time management. Do you relate to any of these habits: Poor delegation skills – it isn’t necessary, realistic or productive to try and do everything yourself. Try delegating tasks that others can do as well or better than you can. Space challenged – understanding what how much you can realistically store. Remember that it’s okay to leave room in a container, on a shelf, and to keep a surface clear. Poor time estimation skills (over- and under-estimating) – understanding how much time it takes to get specific things done, including commuting. This is a critical time management skill for effective planning. The “one more thing” syndrome – squeezing in another task when you don’t have enough time and then, feeling rushed and being late. As always, try focusing one one habit… read more →
Habits that cause clutter include: Your San Diego Personal and Professional Organizer wants you to begin to check off the habits and behaviors that may cause clutter in your home and office. Do any of these look familiar: If so, try my 1-at-a-time rule and begin to eliminate just one “bad” habit. Practice it and reward your successes! Creating stacks of things, paper, etc. – stacks make retrieving things in a timely manner unnecessarily more difficult. Using deep storage containers – bins that make it difficult to find things. Lack of daily organizing – creating a daily routine for organizing every space as soon as you are finished using it. Fifteen minutes a day keeps the piles away. Procrastination about starting something or acting on something – delaying a task because you think that you don’t have enough time to do the entire project. Procrastination about finishing something – perfectionism is sometimes the culprit of unfinished work and lingering clutter. Unrealistic estimation of financial value – holding on to things because you think that they are worth a lot of money but aren’t. What you can do now: Just try discarding or shredding a paper as soon as you no longer need it. Use only shallow containers and as soon as it is 3/4 of the way full, thin it out from the bottom. Organize a horizontal surface when you finish working there and before you leave the room. Set a timer for a specific amount of time to start a project. Just do it and when the timer goes off, stop. Schedule time to work on the next step and try it again. Do you feel like something that you are working on isn’t done because it’s not perfect, yet? Try adopting an attitude of “good enough” with… read more →
Do you know that clutter can be caused by habits that keep you disorganized? Behaviors can either facilitate or impede your ability to get organized and stay organized. Behaviors and habits that do not facilitate organization not only cause physical clutter, they can also cause lack of productivity and mental clutter. This isn’t necessarily intentional, in fact, sometimes it is the mindless aspect of what you do that stops you from putting things back where they belong or taking a few minutes to file, fold, or hang something up instead of leaving it in a heap of other stuff. Do you any of these behaviors or habits keep you from being more organized? Compulsive shopping – repeatedly buying things that you don’t need. Buying in bulk – purchasing more than you will use in a reasonable amount of time. Storing outdated or useless paperwork – piles and files of reference items that you rarely if ever go back to use. Saving large quantities of unread material – newspapers, magazines, and recipes. Lack of planning – scheduling a regular block of time to organize your space. Difficulty making decisions – over-thinking whether or not to keep or let go of items. Unopened mail – delaying action on what to do with incoming mail rather than implementing a daily system. Take on one habit at a time with the understanding that any change in behavior takes practice over time. You CAN do it!