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

Common Questions (and Answers) for a Professional Organizer

When organizing people’s homes we often answer the same questions again and again. While our answers occasionally change based on the situation, we’ve also come up with general strategies and concepts that seem to ring true for most.

1) Should I keep all of the sizes I fluctuate between? This is a common problem. We find that many individuals with overflowing closets are often holding on to wardrobes in several sizes because of frequent weight changes. What we always tell people is that it’s easier to fluctuate between sizes when you have the next size up available to you. If your jeans were getting a bit tight and you had no larger size available, you might be more conscious of eating healthy and working out to make the current jeans fit again.

2) What do I do with the stuff I’m storing for family/friends? The first question to ask is how long have you been storing the items. Next ask yourself if there was a time limit placed on providing the storage and when the last time the owner mentioned the items. If you’ve had clothing from a relative for several years, chances are they don’t need it anymore and would be fine giving it away. If they truly want the items give them a deadline by which to move them and stand by it. Just remember, this is your home, not a storage unit.

3) How do I maintain the organization? This is the most difficult part of organizing for most people. They love the idea of getting organized, but struggle to maintain it after we’ve left. To assist in keeping your home tidy and organized, commit to a daily routine of putting things back where they belong. Each night, before you go to bed walk around the home and conduct a mini-reset. This will help keep things from getting out of control. Labels are also a great idea to ensure things go back to their rightful homes.

4) What papers do I keep and what can be tossed? In general, if you can find a copy of the document somewhere online, shred, recycle or trash the hard copy. For documents that are currently being used, maintain a inbox/outbox system that is reviewed each week for expired/unnecessary items. To determine what documents need to be stored long-term or for tax purposes, review Suze Orman’s Financial Clutter, What to Keep List.

5)  Am I a Hoarder? It is common for individuals using a professional organizer to feel like perhaps they are a Hoarder. The reality is that the amount of collecting or acquisition that it takes to become a Hoarder is significant and most people do not fit the clinical definition. That being said, there are many people with hoarding tendencies. If any of the following statements are true, you may benefit more from a mental health professional, than an organizer.

  • You acquire belongings to fulfill an emotional need
  • You hold onto excessive amounts of items with little or no value (i.e. newspapers, old magazines, trash, etc.)
  • Your belongings have taken over the space you require to live comfortably in your home
  • You are extremely reluctant to part with any belongings, no matter their frequency of use, value, or usefulness
  • The collecting of items has otherwise impaired your life or health

What are some of the questions you’ve always wanted to ask a professional organizer?

TWOW

Guest Post: 8 Ways to Have Fun Cleaning

While everyone wants a sparkling house, getting there can be…well, a chore. For working and stay-at-home moms alike, jam-packed schedules often limit the time available for cleaning, and it can be easy to do a lackluster job or simply not do it at all some weeks.

Some people hire a housekeeper to clean for them, but if you don’t, here are eight ways to make cleaning fun for yourself and your family:

1. Create a Theme
Parties and special events often have themes that make them special. Borrow that magic for cleaning day. By adding a simple theme, you can turn chores into fun. Pick something like Pirate Adventure. Everyone in your family can dress up in leftover Halloween costumes, play music like the soundtrack toJake and the Never Land Pirates and talk like a pirate while cleaning. Make cleaning silly and you’ll forget that you’re actually working.

2. Make it a Race
Becky, a mom and cleaning expert who blogs at Clean Mama, recommends that you: “Time yourself and try to beat last week’s time.” If you’re the ultra-competitive type (even with yourself), this can be a great way to get motivated. Challenge your kids to see who can make a bed the fastest and give a prize to the winner — maybe they get to pick the next flick for movie night.

3. Get the Family Involved
Cleaning isn’t just something that mom handles. Every member of the family should pitch in. “I like to involve my kids in the chores so we are doing them together,” says Becky.

Like Becky, Jan Dougherty, cleaning expert and author of “The Lost Art of House Cleaning,” says cleaning should be a family affair. Dougherty believes cleaning is an important life tool all children should learn. “Give your children the proper tools to do a good job. Rather than instructing them to clean their room and walking away, give them one-on-one instruction,” she suggests. Kids will enjoy the personal attention and feeling of importance you’re giving them.

4. Shoot Hoops
If you’re getting the whole family involved, set up a few trash bins around the room you’re tackling and have family members take turns trying to throw trash or other items you’re getting rid of into the bins. This can be fun in its own right, but for a little extra motivation, you can award the person who makes the most baskets a prize. The prize can be anything from a homemade “MVP Cleaning Trophy” to even getting to opt out of the chore of their choice for next week’s cleaning duties.

5. Head Outside
We mainly think of cleaning as things to do inside the home, but there’s plenty of work that needs to be done outside as well. Get some fresh air while tackling yard work. Have the kids help rake up leaves and then have fun jumping in the piles before scooping the leaves into garbage bags. In the winter months, getting the kids to help shovel the driveway is easy when you promise they can use the extra snow to make igloos and snowmen when the shoveling is complete. And teach them how to garden by starting with easy tasks like weeding and watering.

Learn more Tricks to Get Kids to Do Yard Work »

6. Skate to Clean Floors
Who doesn’t love that scene from Pippi Longstocking where she puts sponges on her feet to mop the floors? Have everyone remove their socks and shoes and tear up old towels so that everyone gets their own pair of “skates.” Fill up the sink or a bucket with soap and water and have everyone dip their skates into the soapy water before putting them under their feet and gliding around the room. To dry the floor, grab an oversized towel and have everyone jump on board, single file to create a cleanup choo-choo train.

7. Multitask
Cleaning can be a great way to sneak some exercise into your life. Kill two birds with one stone by wearing light ankle weights or watching your form while you polish the counter tops. If you aren’t interested in the weights, Becky recommends you “wear a pedometer and see how many steps you can take while you do your house cleaning.” Cleaning can be great cardio if you’re willing to look a little foolish in your own home. Who knows? You may be motivated to take more steps, and thus, clean more.

8. Entertain Yourself
One of the best ways to make cleaning fun is to make it entertaining. Becky recommends playing music or putting on a kid-friendly movie while you all fold laundry. In the same way music can motivate you to workout harder, it can also pump up your chores. After all, who hasn’t used their mop handle to pretend they were Adele at the Oscars? Put on some upbeat tunes and dance around the house while de-griming. You will be done in no time.

Cleaning doesn’t have to be tedious and boring. By taking it step-by-step and incorporating small games and challenges into each chore, you can make it a fun, family activity rather than bemoaning all of the things you have to do. The next time cleaning day rolls around, bust out your MP3 player, put on some ratty clothes and get down with your bad self.

This post was generously written by Alaina Brandenburger, a Contributor for Care.com (www.Care.com), the largest online care destination in the world.

 

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

5 Steps to Help You Actually Start & Complete that Project

We all have projects and tasks that we’ve been meaning to get to for a while. Those items at the bottom of our to-do lists that for one reason or another we’ve procrastinated getting done. Perhaps it’s an organizing project or maybe it’s finally getting to that filing from last year. No matter the task, we’ve outlined some basic steps to help get you started.

1) Review the Project: Although you may have a general idea of what needs to be done, it helps to get a fresh look at the scope of the project. Determine how long it will take, what you need to complete it, and how you will work.

2) Make a Plan: Once you have a basic idea of what needs to be done, it helps to have a specific agenda or outline of how you will work. For example, if the project is to organize your filing cabinets, decide ahead of time, how many years of documents you will keep, what types of docs will be trashed vs. kept vs. shredded, and if you will need input from others during the process.

3)  Schedule the Time: Putting an allotment of time on the calendar is one of the easiest things you can do to ensure completion of a project. If the task will require several chunks of time, schedule the entire process. Don’t forget to leave yourself enough time before and after to keep distractions from creeping in.

4) Gather What You Need: Before you start the project, gather the necessary tools, supplies, and information. This will keep you from using the excuse of not having what you need to put the project on hold mid-process.

5) Focus on Completion: Once you finally get into the actual work, commit to seeing it through to the end, or the pre-determined stopping point. It’s easy to get distracted or frustrated with things, but if you mentally commit to a goal you’ll find it easier to see it through. We also find that a timer set in brief, but effective time intervals can help.

We hope this 5 step process helps to inspire you to get some of those bigger projects started this year. As always, if you need a little extra help, The Well-Organized Woman is happy to assist.

TWOW

Guest Post: Harmonize Your Home for the Holidays in a Hurry

As the holidays draw near, it seems we’re all getting busier by the day and more stressed by the hour.

Still need to rearrange furniture to make room for the tree?

Maybe you’ve worn grooves into the linoleum from pacing around the kitchen in anticipation of that dinner party you’re going to host?

Whatever your situation, you might think it’s too late to get your home into Santa-style shape.

You would be wrong.

Here are five steps for de-cluttering your home in time for the holiday festivities.

1. Focus on the main rooms. Pick the rooms where your family and visitors are likely to linger, mingle or dine. Concentrate on the dining room, living room, main bathroom and coat closet, for example, before you worry about the kids’ bedrooms, the tool shed out back or the canning cellar under the stairs (shout-out to my family back in Appalachia). Remember — you can always go through other rooms once you’ve handled the main ones, but if you’re pressed for time, don’t set unrealistic goals. Concentrate on the important, the reasonable, the achievable. Once you’ve picked your targets, make sure you take on just one room at a time.

2. Out with the old. It helps to organize and arrange what you want to keep by removing the items you don’t. Gather boxes and label them “donate,” “junk,” and “maybe.” Then, start filling the boxes. Use the “maybe” container for the things you know you should toss – like that decorative “glam rock” rudolph statue you thought was a good idea back in December of ’86 – but don’t have the heart to let go. It’ll help get the ball rolling without causing hesitation or regret since you can make those tough decisions later.

3. Think big. Once you’ve cleared out the clutter that has to go, look at the furniture and larger items in the room. Rearrange before you do anything else. For example, if you need to move the couch to fit the tree into its proper corner, or if you have to slide a random floor cabinet from the dining room to clear space for a kid’s table, do that now.

4. Details matter. Now that you’ve handled the big, space-hogging furniture, take a second look at the room. Notice dirt or dust one the floor where the couch used to be? Are there any stray DVDs, books, papers or other eye-sore-type clutter laying around? If so, sweep the dirt and put the movies back where they belong. If they don’t have a proper place, create one. You can always hide a stack of DVDs under an end table with a floor-length table cloth. Get creative and hide any unsightly clutter that you can’t get rid of. Just resist the urge to bury your husband’s full-size Christmas Story leg lamp in the backyard. Remember, the holidays are supposed to be a peaceful time. Avoid inciting World War III.

5. Teach and preach. This is probably the most important step. If you don’t tell your kids or spouse where things go, they won’t know how to put things back. Stay on top of everyone and let them know that clutter and messy rooms won’t be tolerated (until after the holidays, at the very least).

Bonus Tip: Get your family to help. By “get,” of course, I mean force, threaten, bribe or anything else you can do to get them to chip in. Let them know that you are NOT going to do this alone. The more they help, the more likely they’ll be to stay on top of the upkeep afterward.

Once you’ve finished, sit back and soak it all in. After all, the holidays only come once a year (thank God).

 ——

This post was generously was written by Dan Reidmiller, Creative Director for College Hunks Hauling Junk. College Hunks Hauling Junk and College Hunks Moving is a national junk-removal, labor services and moving company, with franchises serving 45 markets in 25 states, including areas such as Central PA, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Northern NJ, Tampa Bay, Washington DC and now Miami.

 

The Container Store Buckhead Reopens in New Location

Yesterday the WOW team had the privilege of attending a blogger preview event for the opening of the relocated Container Store Buckhead. The new store, located on the corner of Peachtree St. and Wieuca Rd., is significantly bigger than the old store and appears to carry a greater variety of products. For frequent shoppers, the parking is also much easier!

The WOW team absolutely loves The Container Store for their multifunctional and innovative storage products, but also for their commitment to conscious capitalism. If you’ve never heard about the store’s corporate culture, you might be interested to know that it is dedicated to running their business in a way that is good for the environment, local communities, and their employees, as well as the bottom line. For example, their employees are paid significantly higher than the average local wage for similar jobs and receive 263 hours of training in their first year (compared to an average of 7-10 in the industry). Learn more about their Founding Principles here.

In celebration of the store opening, there will be events and giveaways held this Saturday and Sunday (11/10-11/11). Some of the reasons to check out the new location this weekend include:

  • Prize giveaways every hour, on the hour, including a $1,000 Elfa Space Makeover
  • $10 Store More Gift Cards for the first 100 Facebook Check-Ins &
  • 10% of all sales throughout the weekend will be donated to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

Thanks again to Container Store Buckhead for inviting WOW to be a part of your grand reopening events. We loved the new location and will certainly be shopping there soon.

TWOW

10 Ways to Start Living With Less

Many of us would love to minimize the amount of stuff we have in our lives, but don’t really know where to start. The culling process can, for some, be scary and for others, downright unimaginable. For people that fall into this category, we’ve compiled our favorite suggestions for minimizing your stuff.

1) 365 Items in 365 Days: If getting rid of a lot of stuff all at once gives you anxiety, commit to ridding your life of one item per day for a year. The item can be anything you wish it to be, but it must be donated, trashed, recycled, or gifted that day.

2) Expired Items: It’s very likely that you have medicine, beauty products, and food items in your home that are past their expiration dates. Throwing these items out is usually easy for most people, so it’s a great way to get into the spirit of culling.

3) One Item In, One Item Out: Although it won’t lessen your current possessions, committing to the goal of one item out for every item that comes into your home is a great way to maintain the current collection size.

4) Buy Multi-Purpose Products: Instead of buying many single-use products, choose products that have multiple functions. For example, you can save 3 products by buying a makeup with moisturizer, SPF, and anti-aging ingredients built in.

5) Clothing: According to statistics, we wear 20% of our clothing, 80% of the time. This says to us that you can donate a good portion of your clothing and not really notice the loss. Use the flip hanger technique once per season and cull the items that we’re not turned once.

6) Meal Planning: Americans often over-buy at the grocery store. Keep from committing this sin by planning your meals and grocery list before heading to the store. Do not buy anything off the list while there and you’ll notice less expired and wasted food in your kitchen over-time.) Unnecessary Buying: Have you ever gone to Target for toothpaste and come out with $200 worth of stuff? Keep the Target syndrome from happening to you, by taking into the store only the amount of cash you need to purchase the items on your list. By leaving the credit cards in the car, you’ll find you only leave with the items you absolutely needed.8) No Paper Rule: Almost all paper items in your life can be found in digital version. Bills, magazines, newspapers, coupon mailers, etc. can all be accessed online if necessary. Stop these things from entering your home by: signing up for a junk mail stop list, opting for paperless billing, reading magazines and news online, and committing to not printing unless absolutely necessary.9) Eliminate Duplicates: If you have multiples of certain items, donate, trash, or recycle them as an easy way to minimize the amount of stuff in your life. An common example of this is kitchen utensils. Often people have 3-4 of the same type of utensil, but typically only use their favorite. Get rid of the extras and you won’t even notice their gone.10) Examine the Excesses: Once per year, examine the things you have and decide what is really necessary. For example, if you pay for a gym membership, but have been once in the past few months, it’s not the best use of your finances. If your children have moved out and there are now just two people living in a 5 bedroom house, it could be time to downsize. If you pay for the premium movie channels in your cable package, but rarely watch them, shut them off and pocket the difference each month.

We hope that these ideas have given you some inspiration for how you can live with less while not sacrificing in terms of lifestyle and happiness.

TWOW

14 Ways to Prepare for Fall

Fall has arrived and that means it’s time to start readying our homes for the change in season. In order to prepare you and your home for the cooler weather, we’ve put together a list of simple organizing projects.

1) Warm Season Gear: Organize and store items such as pool toys, beach towels, and outside sporting equipment.

2) Garden: Prune your perennials, add a layer of insulating mulch for plant warmth, and trim trees that could provide a threat to your home during a winter storm.

3) Reorganize the Kitchen: Relocate warm weather items, such as ice cream makers, to higher shelves and shift down things like the crockpot and soup bowls.

4) Pool: Schedule an appointment for your pool to be winterized and mark the close-up date on your calendar.

5) Weather-proofing: Determine if your windows, doors, or pipes needs weather proofing or insulating. Clear out gutters and downspouts.

6) Heater check: Have a professional firm come and inspect your heating system before turning it on. If applicable, have the chimney swept.

7) Closet Changeover: Conduct the Fall closet changeover using the process outlined here. While you’re at it, purge summer items that were not worn this year from the collection.

8) Artwork: Set up a system for displaying, temporarily storing, and keeping children’s school artwork.

9) Prep the Coat Closet: Clear out space and organize the coat closet to accommodate for regular use.

10) Reverse Ceiling Fans: Keep the warm air down by reversing your ceiling fan blades.

11) Clean out the Pantry: Review the contents of you pantry and toss anything that’s expired or not being eaten.

12) Roof: Inspect your roof and repair any broken shingles.

13) Lawn: Have your sprinklers winterized and prep the lawn for the cold weather.

14) Deck: Put down a fresh coat of sealer on your deck and get patio furniture covers, if needed.

 

Good luck with your organizing projects and have a happy Fall season.

TWOW

Get Organized for Halloween

Halloween may not be one of the most important holidays, but for families with children the day can require much preparation. In order to avoid last minute scrambling, we’ve put together a list of things to get organized ahead of time.

1) Costumes: By shopping for costumes earlier in the month of October you’ll not only have a better selection, but you may also get a better price. Costume stores typically offer coupons in early October, so keep a look out in your coupon mailers or check online sites like retailmenot.com for discount codes for online shopping. For optimum organization, you should aim to have all costumes purchased by the second week in October.

2) Decorations: Halloween decorations can help to get your family and neighborhood in the holiday spirit. Plan on decorating your home and yard by the weekend of October 20th. If you’re carving pumpkins, ideal timing is the weekend before (27th) Halloween to ensure they stay fresh. Keep in mind when you are decorating that the weather changes quickly this time of year, so if you have delicate ghosts or spider webs, be sure to bring them in before any rain hits.

3) Candy: Stores like CVS, Costco, and Target have deals on large bags of candy early in the month, so now is the time to stock up on the sweets you’ll need for trick-or-treaters.

4) School Activities: Schools often plan Halloween activities, such as costume parades and trick-or-treating. Find out the dates of these events now and mark your calendars to ensure your child will be prepared. In addition to the activity dates, also add deadlines for costume and accessory (candy pails) purchases.

5) Trick-o-Treating Plans: Plan on setting up your trick-or-treat plans two weeks ahead of time. If you are coordinating with other families, set a meeting time, location, and plans for child supervision and safety. It’s also a good idea to assign each child a ‘buddy’ to stay with for the evening to ensure no one is left alone.

6) Party Plans: If you plan on throwing a Halloween party, you’ll want to send out invitations the first week of October. During the second week, you can start to plan decorations, food, theme, music, and other party needs. The third week is the time to firm up these plans and finishing buying necessary non-perishable items, such as decorations. The last week leading up to the party is the time to decorate your space and complete the grocery shopping. On the day-of, you’ll prepare the food and drinks, set up last minute items, don your costume, and get ready to have a spooky evening with friends.

7) Holiday Food: Although Halloween is best known for candy, some people have traditions that include certain Halloween foods. Ensure you’ll be able to make these for friends and family by making a list of foods and necessary ingredients two weeks before the holiday. When making the list, keep in mind the little items, such as spices for pumpkin seed roasting and drinks such as apple cider.

We hope that by getting a head start on your Halloween plans this year you’ll have more time to enjoy the festivities on the day of.

TWOW

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