How to Avoid Holiday Stress

Winter plants terra cotta pot arrangement 12.14

In my ‘Clutter Clearer Coach’ holiday E-newsletter, I recommend getting organized early to take the stress out of the upcoming winter holidays. I’ve included these recommendations and some additional tips here.

Here are TEN TIPS to help you stay calm this holiday season:

1. Make it easy on yourself. Ask for help from friends, neighbors or family members. Don’t get organized by yourself, unless you either want to, or have to. (I never asked for assistance, and did I get stressed! Now I ask.)

2. Don’t wait until the last minute. Plan and complete your errands and chores early so you can be relaxed and enjoy the holidays. Accomplish just a few things each day so you don’t get overwhelmed. (Sometimes I procrastinate, so don’t be like me.)

3.  Schedule chunks of time in advance for tasks. Enter them into your calendar, be it digital or paper, so you don’t forget. If digital, plug in audio reminders. (Keeping track of my tasks on my iPhone is easy)

4. Make your lists and check them twice!  Ask everyone in your family to write gift lists so you know what to buy them. Make your own lists for doing household chores;  who you will buy gifts for, decorations you’ll need, food for menus, etc. Determine your budget, and write down what you’ll spend for each item. And decide ahead of time where to purchase everything. (Guess I have it easy now, as I only buy gifts for a couple of friends – most friends & my relatives decided to forego winter holiday gift giving)

5. You don’t have to do it all! If you are very busy and have limited time to do everything, check over your list and eliminate items and tasks that are not essential. (I am extremely busy, so I do a lot less organizing for the holidays than ever before. Mostly it’s decorating with live evergreens for a festive look, putting ornaments on the mini tree, and buying a few gifts and wrapping them.)

6. Avoid the crowds. Go shopping and to the post office during hours (not weekends) when there won’t be crowds. (I go mid-morning on a weekday well before the holidays to do my errands)

7. Don’t over-clean your home. You don’t have to clean from top to bottom. Clean only the areas that are public to guests who come over; the kitchen, living room, bathroom and dining room. Hire someone to do the cleaning, or have a friend or family member help you. (I am now fortunate to have a cleaning service come every 2 weeks.)

8. Clear the clutter in these public rooms; including the front entry hall. Especially, the entry to your home, as it shouldn’t be a safety hazard for you and guests entering through the door.  (Every day I put things away where they belong.)

9. Re-use decorations and gift wrap materials from the previous year. Buy new décor for the holidays at the end of December and beginning of January each year to save money as these items go on sale, sometimes 1/2 price. Pack up left overs and reuse next year. (My new housemate and I will reuse our shared wrapping paper from last year.)

10. Ask for help after the holidays are over. Invite friends or family over to help clean, take decorations down and pack them. Make it fun for everyone, and provide yummy snacks to eat. Pack all decorations and gift wrap items in plastic boxes with lids, or in covered cardboard boxes if your storage area is not damp. (And, we share taking down the holiday decorations)

Let me know how your holiday organizing goes!

PS – If you’d like to receive my ‘Clutter Clearer Coach’ monthly newsletter, send me your name and email address and I’ll include you in my mail chimp mailings.

For a FREE 1/2 hour phone consultation
to discuss your clutter issues, contact Judy at:
ClutterClearerCoach@comcast.net or 857-919-4735

Swapping Summer Clothing for Winter Wear

winter jackets

Mid-fall is the time of year that I go through my closet and separate my winter
clothing from my summer clothing. For me, and I’m sure for some of you, knowing when to do this usually is a frustrating time because the temperature fluctuates so much. This is referred to as ‘Indian Summer’ here in New England. It may be 50 degrees in the morning, and by noon time the temperature has reached 70 degrees. Although, this year it’s now October 21st, and the days are not above the mid-50″s and the nights are in the low 40’s and high 30’s.

I’ve already put most of my sleeveless shirts, polo shirts and dresses, plus shorts, bathing suits and summer shoes (which I won’t really need to wear until next year) into a covered plastic storage container for dry basement storage. But, have kept some in my closet and dresser in case we have a glimpse of ‘Indian Summer’ in the next few weeks.

I have pulled out most of my winter clothing; long sleeved shirts & sweatshirts, sweaters, heavier pants, etc. These are available to wear now. Winter coats go in the hall closet. Once the real cold sets in, those few pieces of summer clothing I’d held out, get put into the basement containers.

I recommend that you try this method of ‘seasonal clothing swap’ if your own method is not working well.

NOTE: If you don’t have a dry attic or separate closet to keep the change of season clothing containers, and only have a damp basement space, be sure to store the items in waterproof containers with air tight lids to keep clothing dry.

When and How do you take care of your seasonal wardrobe change?

FREE 1/2 hour phone consultation
to discuss your clutter issues, contact Judy at:
ClutterClearerCoach@comcast.net or 857-919-4735

Why is Mail so Hard to Deal With?

junk mail

Do you have lots of junk mail, catalogs, and unopened mail forming piles of paper? And, you just don’t know how to deal with it?

Tackling your incoming (and piled up mail) can be really hard to deal with for a number of reasons:

• First of all you have to make a decision on what to do with each piece of mail. Recycle, file, archive, open up the envelope, etc.. And, if you have a lot of ‘pieces’ lying around, that’s a lot of deciding to do.

• You have to then figure out where to put each piece of paper.

• All of that paper takes up space! What if you don’t have the space or the proper filing cabinets or containers to put it all.

• And if, and when you do find a spot to put it, you may never find it again.

• What if you throw it out? You might need it someday.

Whew! So many decisions to make and so little time!

Begin by asking yourself these questions about your mail:

• DO you REALLY need to keep this?
• Will you really read this someday if you keep it? Probably not!
• If you DO KEEP it, where should you put it, so it’s easy to find
• HOW and WHERE can you find it

Begin With Baby Steps:

• Put a recycling bin near where you open your mail.
• Begin your decision making with your current mail. Don’t worry about the mail that’s already piled up. You’ll get to that later.
• Pick up each piece of current mail and determine whether you need it
• Can you recycle it? Is it a bill that needs to be opened and paid?
If it’s a catalog or magazine, recycle these after the next issues arrive.
• Do you want to keep receiving the catalogs, junk mail or stop getting it? If you’d like to stop it contact: http://StoptheJunkMail.com/ Or, if using Apps, log onto http://www.PaperKarma.com/

As you begin to make these types of decisions, you’ll find that it gets easier every time you do so.

Let me know if your decision making has gotten a bit easier. Thanks!

FREE 1/2 hour phone consultation
to discuss your clutter issues, contact me at:
ClutterClearerCoach@comcast.net or 857-919-4735 

Are You the Cause of Your Own Disorganization and Lack of Time?

iPhone with calendar

When not in the field with organizing clients or doing gardening for clients, I work from home on my business paper work, invoices, marketing and my blog. Sometimes I check my emails, Facebook page more than a few times each day.

I am going to work on this habit, and only interrupt my work flow a few times each day instead of every 20 or 30 minutes when I am at my desk. I know by doing so, I will be able to manage my time better.

Do you find that you are addicted to looking at your emails, Facebook page, on-line news, podcasts and videos? How often do you check your smartphone, iPad, or computer for the latest messages from friends, list serves, and cute cat or other animal videos on your Facebook page?  I’m thinking often.

Here are some of the most common time wasters:

– Losing things (like keys, eyeglasses)
– Checking email and Facebook frequently
– Spending too much time talking on the phone
– Not having a daily/weekly plan to follow
– Ignoring the clutter because you are too busy

Here are some solutions that will save you time, and keep you more organized:

– Use an in-basket/bowl in a central place for keys, glasses, cell phone, etc..(it’s nice to find them in the same location all the time)
– Schedule only several times a day to check email and Facebook (it’s not going anywhere)
– Limit the time you talk on the phone (use a kitchen timer, and get to the point)
– Schedule your to-do’s and appointments in your calendar (to stay on track)
– Designate short blocks of time to get organized (like 1 hour, once per week)

Try putting these solutions to the test, and you’ll notice that you are more organized and have more time!  I’d love to know how following these steps changes your life.

If you live in the Boston area, and would like a 

FREE 1/2 hour phone consultation
to discuss your clutter issues, contact me at:
ClutterClearerCoach@comcast.net or 857-919-4735

Spring Cleaning and Clearing

 

Reuse tiny boxes for storing jewelry

 

With the approach of spring it’s getting to be that time again to clean the home, get rid of items you no longer use or need, and re-purpose things you already have.

 

Here are some tips to help you get started:

1.  Thoroughly clean one room each week. If your home isn’t too big, this should take you to mid May. Vacuum, dust, rearrange furniture, purge, and organize the stuff in each room. This week, I vacuumed the apartment and brought some items I didn’t need to the Salvation Army store.

2.  Sort through one shelf, drawer, box, cabinet and bin at a time. Keep it simple, so you do not get overwhelmed. I just de-cluttered and organized my kitchen utensil drawer that I’d let get out of hand. It’s never too late to take control of your own clutter.

messy kitchen drawer      Organizd kitchen drawer

3.   Practice the age old expression: ‘When in doubt, throw it out’.  If I don’t love, need, use, or want an item, I throw it out! Or, give it away, or recycle it.

4.  Don’t spend money, be creative and re-purpose the containers you already have! Look around and you will most likely find empty boxes, canvas shopping bags, or plastic containers for storage. I’ve been using my plastic covered containers as needed. You can also sort through and purge any full containers you have to make them re-usable. Perhaps you can use old ice cube trays, empty egg cartons for storing jewelry or other small items, or checkbook boxes for drawer dividers.

5.   Take a few minutes before work or after work to recycle plastics, wash a counter, sweep the kitchen floor. You’ll be pleasantly surprised that life will be easier if you take on this task each day. Yesterday, I washed the dish drain tray, which took about three minutes.

6.  Don’t worry about following someone else’s system for cleaning/organizing. Use the system that works for you. My way may be different from yours.

7.  And, make a promise to yourself to not procrastinate. Get it done! I’m a big procrastinator, but when I get a household task or organizing project accomplished, I feel great!

Look around your home or apartment – what can you use in a different way?

And, do you have any TIPS for spring cleaning/organizing that work for you? I’d love to hear about them.

If you live in the Boston area, and would like a
FREE 1/2 hour telephone consultation to discuss your
clutter issues, contact Judy at: clutterclearercoach@comcast.net

 

 

 

Seven Days of Organizing TIPS – Day # 6 – ‘Shabby Towels’

DAY # 6 – TIP # 6

Shabby Towels

Do some of your towels look like something the cat dragged in?
I have had some pretty ratty looking towels. Usually, I use them until their terry cloth is pretty bare. And, then it’s time to use them for other purposes; like for dusting the furniture, to clean up spills on the floor, or to line the cat carrier interior for comfortable trips to the vet for my cat.

If your towels are overused and shabby, search the house/apartment for them, and reuse for other purposes like I do. Or, fill a box and deliver it to your local animal shelter to provide comfy resting spots for furry friends. Whenever you purchase new towels, donate an equal amount of old ones. You can also donate the old towels to be used as rags to your local GoodWill type organizations.

What do you do with your old towels?

If you live in the Boston area, and would like a FREE 1/2 hour telephone consultation to discuss your clutter issues, contact me at clutterclearercoach@comcast.net

Don’t let the ‘Clutter Creature’ take control!

Are you afraid to look under the bathroom sink because you might be attacked by all the clutter inside? Don’t let the Clutter Creature’ take control!

Disorganized stuff under bathroom sink

It’s time to tame that creature, and put some systems in place under the sink.

1. Ask yourself; what belongs under the sink and what doesn’t? – Do you really want to store your extra toothbrushes and deodorant there? It makes sense to keep cleaning products, air fresheners and toilet paper in that area. So, sort through all these items and delegate other storage areas for items that should be stored elsewhere.

2. Store vertically – To maximize your vertical space, purchase an inexpensive shelving unit for stacking. This will be good for small items.

3. Utilize the doors – If there’s room on the insides of the cabinet doors take advantage of the space. You could install a small rack on one door for holding cleaning rags. On the other door, attach a narrow shelf to hold new sponges and rubber cleaning gloves.

4. Under the drain pipe you can place a shallow metal or plastic tray for keeping more items organized.

Once you’ve followed these four suggestions, try to keep everything stored under the bathroom sink organized. Otherwise, you might have to deal with the ‘Clutter Creature’ once again!

Let me know if you’ve conquered the beast!

If you live in the Boston area, and would like a FREE 1/2 hour telephone consultation to discuss your clutter issues, contact me at clutterclearercoach@comcast.net