3 Common Excuses for Clutter & How to Stop Making Them

Many of the individuals we work with struggle with maintaining a clutter-free home. They truly want to have an organized home and life, but when it comes to the execution we often hear the same excuses again and again. While we understand that things do come up and that no one is organized all of the time, there are ways to minimize the excuses and get on a consistent organizing plan.

1) “It’s Not Me, It’s My Partner”: Occasionally this excuse is true, but often times both people are contributing to the problem in some way. With this issue, we recommend several strategies. First, work together to devise an organizing and cleaning plan. Both partners must contribute to the design and it should include responsibilities for each person. If need be, create a physical chart with check marks for completion of tasks each week. If someone isn’t pulling their weight, schedule a meeting to discuss what obstacles are getting in the way and how you can work together to achieve the goal. The second part of this plan is to reinforce when effort has been made. If you see your partner picking up the house, thank and compliment them. Expressed appreciation encourages continued effort more than anything else.

2) “I don’t have the time”: Many people are very busy with work and life, but typically the average person has extra free time that they just aren’t utilizing to the fullest. For example, while watching tv at night you can also be folding laundry or putting items back where they belong. The other part of this issue, is the ability to clean as you go. If you are cooking dinner for the family, try to wash a few pots along the way. At the end of dinner, all you’ll have left are a few plates and silverware, making the clean up process quick and easy.

3) “I don’t have enough space to be organized”: This is one we see a lot! The underlying issue is that for people like this, no amount of space will ever be enough. They accumulate to their max capacity and if they had a bigger home, they would do it there too. To rectify these situations we recommend a few tips. First, doing a major purge two times per year will help keep the possessions to an acceptable and livable level. The one in one out strategy is also great for individuals like this. For every new item that comes into the home, one must leave. This will assist you in maintaining the smaller amount of items after your first purge.

Clutter happens to everyone, but recognizing when you’re making unnecessary excuses for it can help keep the problem from happening in the first place.

TWOW

Living with Less: How to Regulate the Amount of ‘Stuff’ in Your Home

One of the main ways we become overwhelmed with disorganization is by accumulating more ‘stuff’ than our spaces can accomodate. Over time, even the most conscious consumer can find themselves in excess if they do not take steps to regulate the inflow and outflow of things. In order to assist our readers in managing their personal collections we’ve put together a few rules for regulating the amount of ‘stuff’ in our lives.

1)  Know What You Have: If you are planning a shopping trip to the grocery store or the mall, before you leave, take an inventory of what you have and what you need. This will help you to avoid buying duplicates.

2) No Spend Commitments: Often times, homes will have packed pantries and freezers and still continue to bring in more food each week. Committing to one week of eating only the items in your home will help you eat down the current stock and save you money. This process is great for using food items that may be expiring in the coming months.

3) Borrow & Share: If you just need the use of something once or twice, consider borrowing the item from a friend or family member instead of purchasing it. This trick works great for specialty cookware (i.e. pasta maker), tools, special occasion clothing, and sports equipment.

4) Don’t Be Afraid to Return: One common issue we see in homes with disorganization problems is that they have a lot of never-used items that are in someway wrong. Instead of keeping those items indefinitely, make an effort to return them asap. To help you do this, immediately place the return item in your car with the receipt once you decide it is not needed.

5) One in, One Out: The one in, one out strategy is fantastic for maintaining the right amount of things for your space. The way it works is before you bring something new into your home, you must first let go of something else. By employing this method you’ll be encouraged to eliminate the things you don’t need and also monitor the incoming items.

6) Scheduled Purging: It’s easy to get distracted and push organizing projects to the bottom of our to-do lists, but if you commit to a regular purge you’ll begin to develop a more clutter-free existence. We recommend setting aside a Saturday once per quarter to complete a full-home round up of all un-used, broken, and unnecessary items.

Good Luck!

TWOW

8 Reasons to Hire a Professional Organizer

We often meet clients that are well-versed in the general principles of organizing. They understand what needs to happen to get them on the right track and yet their homes are still disorganized. When they call us they are initially skeptical about the need for an organizer, but end up extremely happy with the service and results. You may wonder why is there such a discrepancy. We’ve put together the top 8 reasons why hiring a professional organizer is better than attempting to do it by yourself or with a friend.

1. Objectivity: We have no attachment to your belongings and thus can help make difficult decisions about parting with said things a bit easier. We come prepared with lots of thoughtful questions about the frequency of use, necessity, and usefulness to assist in determining whether to keep or cull.

2. Calm & Collected: We organize people’s homes for a living, so we’ve pretty much seen it all. No matter the extent to your organizing needs, we will not become overwhelmed. We can help you achieve this peace of mind as well.

3. Efficiency & Organization: Instead of just making things fit anywhere they can, we strategize about the bigger organizational picture to ensure that your home and life is left with increased efficiency.

4. Completion: When attempting an organizing project by yourself, you can sometimes get distracted and leave things in a more disorganized state than when you started. When you hire us to organize we promise the job will be finished to your satisfaction.

5. Expertise: We are full of recommendations for products, resources, and information that will help you to achieve the organization that you’re looking for. Be it a storage solution or a way of setting up your desk to maximize productivity, we’re happy to impart our wisdom.

6. Fresh Eyes: When you are living in the disorganization for a long time it can become normal and blind you to new ways of doing things. Professional organizers can walk into your home and see patterns of disorganization, as well as potential solutions that you may overlooked.

7. Maintenance Strategies: While physical organizing is the first step, keeping things that way is the hard part. While we organize we impart strategies for how to correct behavioral habits that are contributing to the long-term disorganization, thus leaving you prepared to maintain things on your own.

8. Donations: Before we leave your home, we take the items that you are donating to charity for you. It may seem insignificant, but often times people never get around to donating the items they cull and then they eventually reintegrate themselves into the home. By removing the items immediately we can guarantee this doesn’t happen.

Obviously we’re partial to hiring a professional to help you with your organizing needs, but if you’re still unsure, feel free to give us a call and we can discuss your particular situation.

TWOW

Guest Post: Creative Ways To Contain That Clutter

If there is one thing that every house has in common, it’s clutter! Living a full life comes with stuff along the way. So how do you keep all that stuff from living all over your countertops, end tables, and living room couch? With a little creative organization!

  1. File it away. Many of us use filing cabinets in our professional lives to keep track of customer information, invoices, and receipts. Why limit this incredibly handy device to your workspace? A filing cabinet is the best way to keep your physical records organized, especially if you have a family or own a home. Stow a binder for everyone’s medical information inside your cabinet, with a sheet in the front of your children’s binders where you can record important milestones like crawling and walking. Alternatively, try scanning in important paperwork and saving it in specific folders on your home computer. Getting all the bills, receipts, and records off your countertops is an essential first step to moving on to more exciting organizational projects.
  2. Make your furniture play double duty. From now on, your furniture doesn’t get to just serve one function.  That inexpensive armoire that you bought to house your daughter’s baby clothes? As she grows and changes, so does the armoire! In elementary school the armoire could serve as an art station or hobby closet, and when she goes on to high school, the armoire might morph into a computer desk. Similarly, a chest or trunk can serve as both storage space and a coffee table, a standing bookcase holds trinkets and books plus acts as a room divider, and baker’s racks can be used for storage in the bathroom and bedrooms as well as the kitchen.
  3. Climb the walls. Too many times we only think of organization as going in one direction – horizontal. But if you start to look at your walls as potential storage area, you’ll realize that your house is brimming with places to keep all that clutter! Some simple hooks in each room can be used for coats, play clothes, and sports uniforms. A sturdy rope hanging from eyehooks on the wall can be used to display artwork, special photos, important correspondence, and other lightweight items. And mounting shelves or cubbies is a great alternative to keeping them on the ground where they take up valuable floor space.

This post was generously written by guest blogger, Lisa. She is a mother and organization enthusiast who relies on her storage units in Colorado Springs and storage units in McAllen to keep her life clutter free. As a writer at Self Storage Deals, Lisa advocates labeling as the best way to stay organized around the house.

Sentimental Clutter: How to Manage, Store, and Let Go

Photos, kids’ artwork, and cards are all examples of items that can build up in numbers to the point that much of your storage space is dedicated to their housing. While these items can be physical representations of treasured memories, they are in their essence just sentimental clutter. Whether this clutter is inherited or created over the years, with a few basic rules you can keep things under control.

Choose One, Not Many
When working with clients, we often come upon large collections of cards, ticket stubs, and letters. For this type of excess clutter, we recommend selecting one or two (depending on your collection’s size) particularly meaningful items to keep and toss the rest. For example, if you have 100’s of cards from birthdays, anniversaries, etc., toss the ones that are simply signed or auto-generated (digital Christmas cards) and keep those that have thoughtful inscriptions. When you have occasion to receive new cards, keep this process in mind before adding the new ones to storage.

Gift & Donate
The inheritance of family heirlooms or estate items can sometimes cause recipients to feel guilty about the misfit of the item into their current life, space, or style. Instead of accepting the item only to dread its storage, consider offering it to another family member who may treasure it more. If it’s not wanted by anyone else, a charity donation may allow the item to be of use to someone in need. Think of this not as a dishonor to the item’s gifter, but a blessing for the new recipient.

Preservation
Over time, many sentimental items, such as photos and journals, can start to deteriorate. While having the original may be ideal, creating a digital image or copy is definitely better for long-term preservation and clutter-free storage. Services like Gophoto.com will turn hard-copy photos into digital files, traditional scanners are great for uploading paper documents, and your digital camera can capture the image of things like kids stuffed animals and other delicate items.

Display/Use
If your ideal space for storing sentimental clutter is in a box, in the back of the basement, it probably isn’t as important to you than you think. If this sounds familiar, dedicate some time to sort through the items. Choose those that are actually meaningful and find a spot for them on display or a use for them in your daily life. The rest can be donated, sold, gifted, or tossed. If you would like to store some items in a box, make sure it is waterproof, sealed, and limited in size. In order to not grow beyond the chosen size box, maintain a strategy of removing one item before adding a new one.

Dealing with sentimental clutter can be emotionally exhausting. As a general rule of thumb, we suggest taking small amounts of time to sort and make decisions, so as not to overwhelm yourself. Having a friend or someone who is not emotionally invested in the items help can ensure that final decisions are rational. They can also be excellent at handling the business side of things (selling/donating), which can be especially taxing.

Good Luck!
TWOW

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