Category Archives: Home

Blog posts having to do with the upkeep and organization of the home and those who live in it.

Spring Into Garage Cleaning – POC Guest Post

I love sharing guest posts from the Professional Organizers of Canada! Great content from my colleagues across the country. Here’s an article full of timely tips on organizing your garage.

‘Trouble finding the gardening tools?

The snow is gone, the air is mild, the buds are starting to appear – all signs of spring being here! Aren’t you excited?  Or maybe you will have a tough time getting into your garage to find your gardening tools and patio furniture?

During the cold Canadian winters, who wants to work in an unheated garage?  As a result, the garage becomes a dumping zone which has to be dealt with in the warmer months.

Think twice about what’s being stored there
A garage may not be an ideal location for certain types of storage. They often have solid concrete floors and despite the age of the garage, concrete can absorb and hold moisture and create a damp environment. Moisture eventually finds its way into your possessions and can create mould and rust.

Containerize properly
When storing, items should be containerized so there’s no chance of anything falling on to you, your possessions or your car. (if a car is indeed occupying the garage). It is also important to protect your belongings from pests and moisture as these can be severely damaging. Be mindful of important keepsakes or antiques and wrap them securely.

Sporting goods
Store them within easy reach and systematically according to seasons for easy and safe retrieval. Get as much as possible off the floor. Utilize the wall hanging panels and hooks. (pictured below)

Be realistic about the time involved to get it organized
Depending on the volume of clutter, you may need more than one day to get organized. Many garages require a minimum of 6 hours and can sometimes exceed 24 hours  depending on the size of the garage and the sheer volume of items. Remember, it’s not just tidying up; it’s creating a system of organization so that you will never have to do it again.

Don’t forget to label the bins and locations.
Once everything is up and out of your way, leave your garage in a clean, tidy and labelled manner. Consider labelling the locations of things as well, so that all family members know where to put things back.

Once you’ve invested in a system of organization for your garage, it’ll be easy to maintain for the seasons that follow.

Organizing Your Family Photos – POC Guest Post

Preserving, organizing, and storing your paper family photos in order to enjoy them for a long time is time-consuming but highly valued work.

Gone are the days when your family might have captured a few dozen pictures a year. Nowadays, there may be huge containers and bins of photos hiding in your basement and attic begging to be organized and cherished. It makes a great project for those snowy or rainy days. Enjoy that time as you take a walk down memory lane.

To get started, separate the various mediums: slides, home movies, photo albums and loose pictures. Keep in mind you are trying to get all those boxes reduced to one perfectly edited album that will look elegant on a coffee table, or a few well-organized photo boxes in which you can find things with ease.

Decide whether to sort the photos by chronological order or by theme.

  • If chronological, arrange the photos in a logical timeline; it makes identifying the people in your photos and selecting the best examples much easier.
  • If thematic, sort them according to categories such as trips, birthdays, life passage events, happenings, etc.Scrapbooks can be made that tell the story of a person’s life.

 

Get some help from family members to identify those mystery individuals in old snapshots.
Eliminate poor quality shots, duplicates, and any pictures where you don’t know any of the people. Also toss most of the scenery shots. Be ruthless! If it doesn’t immediately bring back a memory, let it go.

Use archival pencils or pens to write the date and the subject on the back of photos with a light hand. Be careful as you want to preserve the data for generations to come, not damage the image.

Once photos are reduced in number, you can determine how you prefer to access them:

  • Photo albums
  • Photo boxes
  • Web-based photo books such as Shutterfly, Picaboo, Canada Photobooks or directly through Apple’s iPhoto App.

For safekeeping of your photos, find a photo scanning company to digitize them. They can be stored in the cloud, or put onto a device for you to keep.

Take the time to respectfully and carefully preserve your family’s photos and memorabilia. Memories can be the most valuable things in a person’s life. Make your photo keepsakes a treasure for the future!

 
Content credit:
Lisa McDonald, Nova Scotia Member

Working with Your Memory to Find a Lost Item – Eileen Pease

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This blog entry comes courtesy of Eileen Pease of Dynamic Learning. Eileen is a leader in maximizing your memory and brain function to increase your productivity at work and at home. If you’re interested in learning more or arranging a training session for your organization, please visit her website.

There is nothing more frustrating than trying to find a misplaced item. The pressure to find it increases exponentially when it is something really important – like a passport.

Stop searching, sit down and think. There is a 99.9999% probability that the item is exactly where you left it. Here are some brain-friendly steps to help you find it.

  1. Stop imagining the awful things that will happen if you don’t find it. That distracts your mind away from the work you need to do with your memory to find it. Imagining awful consequences will stress your brain, decreasing your memory.
  2. Remind yourself in a friendly, optimistic way that you will find it soon because you know there is a logical reason why you haven’t found it yet. When you do find it, you will be relieved and amused.
  3. Take three deep, relaxing breaths and sit or stand exactly where you were the last time you had the item for sure.
  4. Keep your focus on that moment, look around slowly, and think about the next steps you took. Don’t let your mind run off into saying things like, “But I already looked there.” You have not found it yet because you have been distracting yourself with other thoughts and commands. Calm your mind and focus on where you were and what you were doing the last time you had it for sure.
  5. Remind yourself that this is the last place you were when you are certain you had it. Review the evidence. For example, “I had my passport in my hand while I was booking my flight.”
  6. Identify the one most probable place you would have put the item. Look for it there. If you don’t find it, step back and look to see if it could have fallen somewhere, slipped behind or under something, or been covered up somehow.
  7. If you still can’t find it, sit down again to think. Remind yourself it is exactly where you left it. What were you thinking about at the time? Was there anybody else involved? Were you listening to your radio or TV? Did somebody phone you or drop in just at that time? Did you go out to your car? Were you cleaning up in a hurry shortly afterward? It is often helpful to actually re-live and act out the sequence of what you remember happened next. Your memory knows what happened next, it just needs you to trigger the reminder.
  8. Continue to work calmly with your memory. Remind yourself you are going to find it and it is better to keep concentrating on it now, than to give up and search for it later. Acknowledge that physical items do not vanish into thin air and rarely get stolen or deliberately hidden by somebody else. Guard against *fantastic* solutions and reassure yourself there is a logical reason why you have not found it so far. When you do find it, there will be a perfectly logical reason for it to be there.
  9. If necessary, revisit in your memory the last moment when you are certain you had it in your hands. Are you making any unchecked assumptions about where you were or what you were doing? Look in your planning calendar, talk to anyone who was around at the time, and re-create that moment. See yourself holding the item and mentally follow the scene that unfolds.
  10. Sometimes the search becomes too irritating. Then it is better to stop and turn your attention to something completely different. Sleep on it. Next morning, rested and with a fresh perspective, start again at step number two.

Once you find the item, note the logic of where it was and recognize the assumptions you were making that stopped you from finding it sooner. I would love to know your lost and found story; please email me atepease@eileenpease.com or phone me at 902-483-5700. If you have faithfully tried every step above with no success, phone me and I will help you get your memory to tell you where your lost item is.

 

Motivation to Let Go of Your Stuff

Sometimes we are waiting for just the right time to let go of some of additional stuff. We know we have too much; there are things we longer use or have duplicates from upgrades or gifts.  It’s always a good idea to pack up some items after any gift giving special occasion like Fathers’ Day, a birthday or Christmas. Remember when items come in to your home it’s a good time to also take some things out. And know that there are so many people in the world that can use your unwanted items. Read this card and see if now is the time to pass on your things to someone who could really use them.

Be More Selfish This Year

Make one of your goals for the New Year to be more selfish. Seriously. Say “no” more often and take time for yourself. Why you ask? Because it’s good for business.

People who take time out of their busy work lives to spend some quality with themselves are more likely to enjoy their work and be more productive. Here are some simple ways to treat yourself right – even when you’re at your busiest.

1) Schedule an hour in your day planner every day that is just for you. Fill it with a hobby,  a class, a nap – whatever you like, as long as it’s just for you. If you look at it like it’s an appointment that you have to keep you are more likely to honour that time.

2) Take an electronic break – see what happens when you turn off your phone, blackberry, iPod, TV, computer and radio. A study of 3000 students by the Kaiser Family Foundation ending in May 2009 revealed that on average they were spending seven and a half hours per day working with electronic devices!

3) If it’s in your budget, schedule yourself a massage once a month. If a massage is a little too pricey, enjoy an
at-home spa day once a month. Taking a break under the warm hands of a masseuse or in tub full of bubbles can help with mental vacation from your stress.

4) Go to your to-do list and see what you can eliminate – maybe you don’t really have to do it anyway. If you have been procrastinating doing something for a long time, ask if it is really important. If it, is make a plan. If it isn’t, get rid of it. No sense in it haunting you from the list. Better yet – see who else could do it.

5) Shut your door – Research suggests the average manager spends three hours a day dealing with interruptions.

6) Take a real lunch break.  Give yourself time to eat in a relaxing atmosphere and read, listen to music, or do nothing.

7) Say no. We are inundated with requests every day to give up our time – and our sanity! Learn to politely refuse when asked to volunteer or donate your time to a cause that you aren’t fully behind. Save your time and energy for causes you truly believe in. Direct your energies in fewer areas where you can be more and fully engaged.

8) Under promise – over deliver.

9) Break out of “The Zone.” It can be really hard to walk away from a project at the end of the day if you’re feeling in the groove, but you need to respect the boundary between work and home. You’ll find your groove again tomorrow, right now you need to walk away and go do something else.

10) Hit the gym, go for a run, practice yoga, take a walk around the block. Beyond the obvious health benefits, the endorphins that are released when you exercise give you a much needed emotional boost to fight through stress and fatigue.

11) Embrace the power of sleep. It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do for your emotional well being. Set your DVR to record, so you don’t miss your favourite show, and head to bed an hour earlier – your brain will thank you in the morning!

Make yourself a priority this year. If you take care of yourself physically and emotionally, everything else in your life will fall into place. Now is the time to make yourself a priority – and you will find that your business ventures  will be more successful as a result.

Start the New Year Right

It’s a new year, and a time when people like to start fresh and sample some new approaches to areas in your life you would like to improve. You have seen the development of the organizing and redesign shows take over our television stations. It’s been called the latest trend, the new dieting, but finding improved ways to organize your life is here to stay. Why? There’s just so much return on investment.

One thing we often forget when making changes and it’s especially true this time of year is the importance of starting slow and making small goals:

1. Your desk is a workplace- remove other non- work related items and place them clean deskelsewhere. Hang photos on the wall and place awards, personal objects and knickknacks on a shelf or credenza.

2. Keep the things you use the most close by and within reach, and items that you require only occasionally further away. This includes files, supplies and personal items.

3. Get rid of the extras- how many of one item do you really need-157 pens, 4 coffee mugs- give away, throw away or return to the stationary/supply area.

Speaking of extras, we usually have between 5-10 extra pounds that we have put on over the holidays. Looking for healthy time saving ways to get back on track? Here’s a few tips:

1. Plan your meals and grocery list ahead of time. You can save time and money. Eating healthier during your day will keep your energy up and your waistline down.

produce isle2. Stick to the outside aisles at the grocery stores. This is where we find our core foods, like fruits and vegetables. It’s a great time to eat more fruits and vegetables. Think of these as a healthy snacking alternative. Try a fruit you’ve never had before.

3. Cut back on your portion sizes- especially when eating out. Order half portions or ask for a to-go container for the remainder of your meal. This also gives you another meal you don’t have to prepare.

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Use What You Have – The Cure for Financial Blues

Here’s an idea that will help you get organized while warding off the financial blues—use what you have.  You’d be surprised at how many items you have lying around that you’ve never used.  Items that, by using them, will create more space in your home and save you money.  For example:

1. Use those gift cards and certificates you received over the past year.  It’s a great way to get what you want or need without spending money.  You can even stretch out their value through end-of-season sales.  Just be sure to check the expiry date before using them.

2. Those decorative candles?  They were meant to be lit and to burn out, so use them before you buy new ones.

3. Check your books and magazines.  There’s always one you haven’t read.  Consider cancelling subscriptions for any magazines you don’t read regularly, and get rid of any items you aren’t going to read.

4. Take an inventory of the food you have and think about ways to use it.  Got pasta and tomato sauce?  Add meat and cheese to your grocery list and make lasagna.  Even your freezer is likely to have several items that you can prepare.  This will save you money and reduce clutter in your cupboards and fridge.

5. Why rent when you can catch up on movies you’ve collected, or programs you’ve recorded?  When done, take the movies you don’t need to keep and donate them, or give them to a friend.

6. Built up a lot of points on your merchant loyalty cards for air travel, products or services?  Now is the time to redeem them.

7. You probably have more beauty supplies than you realize.  It’s time to take stock and start using them.  This is also a great way to clear out products that are past their expiry date.  If you have items you don’t plan to use, like shampoo, drop them off at your local women’s shelter.

8. Have a lot of loose change around your house?  Gather it up and use it.  You can roll it up and put it in the bank or divide it up and give it to your kids as lunch money.

9. Instead of a new hobby or craft, revisit one that you set aside. You’ll save money on supplies.

Remember, when it comes to excess or unused items around your home, everything old is new again.  For example, consider cutting up old towels to make new cleaning cloths. And consider giving your extra or unused linen and kitchen supplies to someone who’s just purchased a new home or rented an apartment.   .

7 Things NOT To Do When Making a New Year’s Resolution

One in four people will not make it a week with their New Year’s resolution. Here are seven things not to do when creating a New Year’s resolution that will help you go the distance:

1. Don’t keep it to yourself. “I don’t want my friends to know I am trying to quit my bad habit.” Let others know! This gives you leverage and allows others to encourage you along your journey.

2. Don’t leave it in your head. “I don’t need to write it down, I know what I want to do.” Research has shown that those who write down their goals and track them have an increased chance of success.

3. Don’t be vague. “I’m going to lose weight”.  How much? At what rate? By when? Make your goals SMART- specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely and time bound.

4. Don’t be inflexible. “I’m not going to ever do that again” Not all goals happen with the flip of a switch. Sometimes you need to wean yourself off of a bad habit. Sometimes you will backslide or slip up. It’s part of life. Get used to it and get used to being more successful for the long haul by recognizing that people try and try again at their goals before they reach them. Some reports suggest an average of 14 times. Persistence not perfectionism pays.

5. Don’t be unrealistic or harsh. “I’m not going to eat any sweets.”  “I will exercise 2 hours everyday.” It is not always realistic to deny yourself. Life is meant to be celebrated. Think moderation and think about small incremental steps that will advance you toward your goal. It is better to be doing a smaller action for the long term than a larger goal that doesn’t have a chance of lasting a week.

6. Don’t take on too much at once. “I’m going to quit smoking, join a gym, meditate 10 minutes every day, lose 20 lbs, and spend more time with my kids.” This is just setting yourself up for disappointment. Focus on a couple of things and the activities that will take you towards your goals.

7. Don’t take the first step TODAY. “I’ll start next week…”  There always seems to be a better time than right now. You may think you need to wait until after a special date or occasion, or once the holidays are over or start on a Monday…the list goes on. The truth is now is always a good time. Start by visualizing where you want to be and eliminating negative self-talk that will keep you from reaching your goals.

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become your character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

– Anonymous

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Deconstructing Holiday Decorations

It’s A Holiday Wrap Up

It’s that time again. The holiday festivities are over and we have to put away all of our seasonal stuff. The excitement of our new gifts often is in vast contrast to the daunting challenge of putting away our seasonal décor. You know you have to do it sooner or later, but sometimes in the end you’re just frantically rushing just to get it done.

To take away holiday stress for next year we want to find the right marriage of saving time, keeping our precious ornaments safe, creating easy access and not taking up extra space. Here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Audit. What did you like this year and what didn’t you like? Takes photos so you can easily replicate vignettes you create like a fireplace mantle or your Christmas tablescaping. Get rid of anything that was damaged and give away items that don’t fit your tastes. No sense packing and unpacking things you haven’t used in years!

2. First things first.
Decide the order of how you will store your decor. Think about the timing of what you use. Know what comes out first and make sure you pack it in last. Some décor also works from Thanksgiving right through to the New Year. Make sure that’s the type of items that are in a place to be easily brought out first.

3. Timing.
  Often our holiday decor is in deep storage like cubbies and crawl spaces. It’s better to put up our outside lights when it’s a little warmer and maybe less snow.  And maybe you can get those cards out to the post office early next year if they are the first thing you see. Advent calendars, Elf on a Shelf and other activities and treats for the kids should be stored within easy reach as well so you’re able to quickly pull them out when the holidays arrive.

4. Know how.
Think about how you pack it up. Consider making a list. Maybe packing room by room/area/vignette will work best for you? For example:IMG_0193
– Foyer: garland, greenery
– Den: blankets, pillows
– Dining room: linens, candles
– Bathrooms: special towels, soaps
– Fireplace: stockings, ornaments
No matter how you pack your decorations, label boxes clearly so you can easily find items on the fly. No one wants to spend more time in the basement/crawl space/attic than they have to!

5. Know what it is. Label containers, create lists, use see through storage bins, photos.

6.  Needs assessment. As you pack, make a list of what you will need for next year. Or, if you are a bargain hunter like me, you may want to run out and buy a few items while the sales are at their peak!

7. Separate. Keep your holiday gift wrap with your holiday items and separate from your other wrapping paper and cards.  I always keep a pair of scissors and tape with holiday wrap so I’m good to go in an instant.

IMG_01928. Pack carefully. Take extra time with fragile keepsakes. You don’t want large bins crushing delicate things. Use soft things to keep ornaments safe – a Christmas table cloth, napkins, pillows, Santa hats, and stockings are all good choices. Using these items to buffer ornaments will also save space. This is extremely important in our age of downsizing and condo living when every inch can count in a storage locker or closet.

9. Safety first. Not only do your ornaments need to be safe, you need to be safe too. Don’t pack bins too heavy – especially if you’re maneuvering them from tight places, like the attic. Don’t rush. Enlisting a friend or family member as a spotter to steady you and to hand things over to is never a bad idea. If you used a ladder to put it up, make sure you are just as careful bringing things down.

10. Let it go. Be careful of the kiddies’ homemade ornaments. They may look sweet with all that food and glitter, but food can attract critters of all sorts. Not to mention, most holidays are sparkling enough without transferring all that gold dust getting through all of your décor into yet another year.

This year, just like the jolly man in red, take the time to make your list and pack it twice. The extra care and attention when putting decorations away will remove so much stress when you prepare your home for the holidays next year.

Organize Anything Gift Certificates

Do you have someone on your holiday list that is impossible to shop for? No idea what to get the friend that seems to have everything? Try an Organize Anything gift certificate for Christmas this year! It’s the perfect choice for the person in your life who needs a helping hand getting a handle on the clutter and disorganization in their life.
Whether they need organizing help at home or in the home office, Organize Anything can help. Know someone who could use some extra assistance getting their productivity up? We have a gift certificate for that. Know a student who wants some making their study habits more efficient? Have a grandchild moving out this spring to go to university? Buy a downsizing or relocating gift certificate for their parents.
Our gift certificates options are wide open so that they can be tailored to meet your needs. We offer professional organizing and productivity services. We also are available for public speaking engagements, teaching seminars and life coaching. Visit our website, http://www.organizeanything.com for all the details.
Please contact us if you aren’t sure if we offer the service you’re looking for organize1@organizeanything.com or (902) 233-1577. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter too (@organizeanow)!

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