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Holiday Decorations…Sort, Organize and Label

Now that the excitement of the holidays has passed, it is time to tackle the un-decoration! Just a few short weeks ago it seemed like such a great idea to decorate every room in the house.  At this point, you might even be avoiding rooms, knowing that there are more items to be packed away.

Perlman Christmas tree copy

“Sort, Organize and Label” we associate these steps with cleaning out closets, pantries and garages but they are also valuable in packing up holiday decorations.  Regardless of the holiday you celebrate, next year when you pull out your decorations, you will be thankful that you took a few extra minutes to sort, organize and label when packing things up, this year.

Before starting the Sort, Organize and Label process there is one more step…cleaning! At this point, you are probably thinking that this blog could not get worse.  Trust us, you will be glad you did this!

  • Check your tablecloths, napkins and holiday towels for stains-these wont magically disappear by next year, in fact, they will get worse.  If stains don’t come out you should thin about discarding the item.
  • Light strands-only pack them if all the bulbs are working
  • Hanukkah Menorah-remove the wax
  • Hanukkah candles-you need 44 each Hanukkah, so fi you have several open, half used boxes combine them-you might not need to buy candles next year.

So now for the “fun stuff”:  Sort, Organize and Label

  • When packing up your decorations store “like” items together, being sure to label the boxes:
    • Tablecloths, napkins and holiday towels
    • Stockings with stocking hangers
    • Wreaths with wreath hangers
    • Lights
    • Ornaments
    • Assorted decorations-group by theme or room, depending on what is more purposeful for your decorating style
  • Be sure that fragile items are stored in a way that they wont break or get damaged

christmas storage

  • If you have decorations that you no longer use but want to keep for memories or to pass along when your children get older, store those separate from the ones you will use next year-label them accordingly “For Suzie’s first home”, “Family Keepers”
  • Holiday cards are letters-stack them, wrap with a ribbon and attach a tag with the year.  These are fun to look through to see how friends and family have changed over the years…don’t forget to save one of yours as well!
  • If you have  special holiday pajamas, slippers or linens go ahead and pack them up-yes, it seems unusual to pack them with holiday decorations but when you think about it there is no need to store them in a separate location. Again, label accordingly!

So once again our running theme of Sort, Organize and Label is used in a different way!

Happy New Year!

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How many sheet sets does one household need?

How many sheet sets does one household need?

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If you found the last blog helpful, then you will probably be pleased with this one. After these two blogs you will be on your way to a well-organized linen closet. The key to not having an overflowing linen closet is to not have too many things in it-brilliant concept we know!! The pressing question is “How many sheet sets should I have?” Again, there’s no law, just suggestions and recommendations based on purposeful thought and no emotional ties to your linen closet.

Good news-the math is a bit easier with sheet sets versus towels-whew, big relief we know!  Here you go, plan and simple:

2 sets of sheets for each “Sleeping Space

What is a “Sleeping Space”? Any sort of bed family members and guest may sleep on.  This includes: sofa beds, blow up mattresses, campers, bunk beds, beach/mountain/lake homes (unless you keep linens there-in which case, follow the same rules).

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As expected, there are a few extra thoughts, suggestions and exceptions to the rule:

  • If you have a bed-wetter, keep an additional set for those beds
  • If you aren’t always quick with the laundry turn-around, pick up an extra set
  • Keep your spare beds made and ready to go, even with the sofa beds-sheets will fit folded in the bed
  • Consider purchasing similarly colored sheet sets so you can mix and match
  • Your old sheets can be donated to the animal shelter or cut into rags
  • To make changing linens easy (yes-that is a slight exaggeration, the only real way to make it easy is to have someone else do it), keep your sheet sets together in your linen closet.  Fold your flat and fitted sheets, then put them inside the pillowcase, extra pillowcases for the bed can also be placed inside.  This way when it is time to change the linens they are ready to go.

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Permission Granted

Permission Granted

Permission granted? For what?  We are officially granting you permission to get rid of a few things we know you have stored somewhere in your home.  Typically, we keep such items for three reasons:

1.  “I used to use it all the time”-the key words here are “used to”.  If you no longer use it, you aren’t going to suddenly start using it.  It is probably taking up space or at least collecting some serious dust.

2.  I have such great memories of it”-Yes, we know you do, but do the memories only exist when you in the presence of the item? Or can you remember the event without having to see/touch the item? We know the answer. 

3.  “Guilt”-This is the toughest reason of them all! We want to assure you that no one will turn over in their grave and the world wont stop spinning if you pull this item down from your attic or up from your basement and get rid of it.

Here are some examples of the items we are referring to:

  • The homemade ice cream maker.  We know you bought it to bring the family together on hot summer nights.  More than likely, no one agreed on the flavor, it took forever to be ready and it was way cheaper to buy ice cream from the grocery store.  Go ahead and toss all the ingredients you bought to make the ice cream.

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  • Children’s medicine and baby thermometers.  If your kids are in high school or better yet, have moved out, you wont need these.  Our guess is the medicine is expired anyway.
  • (Most) Owners’ Manuals.  This probably sent a wave of panic through you.  You may be thinking “But what if I need to fix my lawn mower?” So what you are saying is,  if your lawn mower breaks down, you have the skills to repair it.  Well good for  you! However, most manuals are typically available online.  If you are still nervous about this, check the company’s website, if the manual is there, ditch your copy.  If not (and this would be quite a surprise) permission granted to keep the manual.  For sure, get rid of the manuals for the items you no longer own.

Manual

  • Take out menus.  Pretty much same goes for these as Owner Manuals.
  • Anything purchased in the middle of the night, during an epic battle with insomnia, from any 30-minute long infomercial or website you stumbled upon.  Good news, many of these glorious items (bacon bowls, exercise equipment, pasta strainers, food hydrators…) can be bought locally, during the day when your judgement isn’t impaired by sleep deprivation.
  • VHS tapes, especially the ones you recorded yourself.  Yes, we all enjoyed TV shows from the 80’s and early 90’s but think about it-Do you have a VCR? If the answer is NO, then the VHS tapes are useless.  If you answered YES, then we suggest you think about getting a DVD player, you will be amazed with the quality.  In addition, there are many options to watch your favorite shows-Netflix and Hulu are two that quickly come to mind.  If what you recorded has sentimental value you can always get it converted to a DVD so you can actually view it.

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  • Now the really hard items-gifts from family members.  You know you aren’t wearing that ugly sweater your mom gave you (Sorry Mom!), you aren’t setting out the decorative placemats, that DO NOT go with your home, at your next dinner party and you have no wall space for the framed 11 X 17 family picture (the one where everyone looks terrible, someone is likely crying and everyone is in matching turtlenecks). Get rid of the items.  You aren’t throwing away your mom or destroying your memory of your family by discarding the items.  Remember you can always take a picture of the item (digital-not to be developed) so you can alleviate your guilt for ditching the item.

SO-permission granted…and you are welcome!

 

“Finish the Cycle”

“Finish the Cycle”

While we know that we have some very good ideas, we also know that there are others out there who do too.  One of our go-to organizational guru’s is Peter Walsh. If you aren’t familiar with him, we recommend that at a minimum you Google him.  If you read The Oprah Magazine, then we know you have heard of him

The key to good organizational concepts is that they are easy to understand and easy to follow.  Most importantly, they are easy to maintain.  Maybe “easy” isn’t the right word because these concepts tend to involve some serious habit changing but if you stick with it you can have some real success.

So today we share a wonderful Peter Walsh gem:  “Finish the Cycle”

‘Consider your washing machine:  You’d never fill it with dirty clothes, let it run for 20 minutes, then turn it off and let the clothes sit for two days.  That would create a stinky mess! So it is with our daily routines:  Doing things halfway wreaks havoc.  That’s why it’s important to finish each cycle.  For example, if you bring a dirty plate into the kitchen, don’t leave it on the counter-put it in the dishwasher! When you pull on sweatpants after work, don’t toss your skirt onto the bed-hang it in your closet.  If you bring in the mail, don’t drop it on the table-sort it (recycle any junk/leave bills in a flat try).  Each of these tasks requires about a minute, which is minimal compared with the time you’d waste later looking for that skirt or bill.’

This concept fits hand-in-hand with our 2-minute rule.  They are both really good organizational habits to develop.  These blogs could focus on all of our bad habits that lead to the dis-organization in our lives; however, that would just result in everyone feeling bad and wouldn’t provide encouragement about developing good organizational habits. We prefer to focus on the positive! Makes us all happier…So Finish the Cycle!

Finish the Cycle

An Organized Home Starts with a Less Cluttered Home

One way to have an organized home is to reduce the clutter.  This is likely to be a running theme with our blogs, but that’s only because it is absolutely true.  Best part is there is a solution and it is very clear…reduce your clutter.

Most of us seem to have too many of the same type of items.  Below is a list that is pretty comprehensive and will help you rethink the quantity you really need of each item. Clearly this won’t cover everyone but you may read this and think “Yep-this applies to me.”

  • Glasses:  Wine glasses, juice glasses and martini glass fill many of our cabinets.  Do you really need a different glass for every beverage that you drink? Wine aficionados may disagree, but the trend towards stemless wine glasses can streamline your cabinets.
  • “Tupperware”: Go through your stash and put any containers without tops in the recycling bin.  Permanently stained containers need to go, same with any that are cracked.  Another option is to eliminate plastic altogether and switch to dishes that can go from oven to table to fridge.  Or eliminate the need for special leftover containers with stretch-to-fit covers.  

June 16 - Storage Containers

  • Cleaning/Grooming Products: Whether it’s hair, nail or cleaning products, we’ve all got a weakness.  Don’t worry, we’ve all been suckered in by the product that promised to transform our hair or or remove hard to clean soap scum.  Time to eliminate.  Streamline your routine, whether it’s hair care or cleaning, weed out the products you don’t use.  For cleaning, an all-purpose cleanser, scrub and window cleaning product can probably get you through most chores. 
  • Makeup: Many of us have enough colors for the next decade of Halloweens.  Makeup, especially lipsticks, mascaras, liquid liners and foundations can go bad.  Toss anything you haven’t worn in the past 6 months.  Not only is it probably bacteria-laden, chances are you’ll never use it. 
  • Hangers:  A mix of wood, plastic and wire hangers are often jumbled together in closets, ruining your clothes and making things look messy.  Uniform hangers make your closet look neat and keep your clothes looking better longer.  Many cleaners will accept wire hangers.

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  • Books: Your favorite books, your favorite children’s books and first editions should be kept.  However, the summer beach read, caked with sand, or the book for your book club that you only read because you had to, can be donated.  Many of us have a mental block against getting rid of books, but if you’re not using them, they are just collecting dust.  Cull your collection and donate books to your local library, a hospital or nursing home.  If you haven’t already done so, consider making the switch to reading books electronically.  
  • Office supplies: What is it about a new notebook or a new pen that holds so much promise? Is it a holdover from when new supplies meant a new grade at school with its promise of a shiny bright future? Do you really need and use all those notepads? Next time you are at hotel, remember that you don’t need to grab the notepad and pen off the desk.  Speaking of hotels…
  • Hotel sized items: Yes, they are cute, but when you take them home, they just become clutter.  Use them up:  store small sizes with your weekender or gym bag and use them when you’re heading to places where you might need pint-sized bath products.  Or better yet, donate to your local homeless shelter.
  • Frilly soaps, bath stuff and scented candles: If you have them, use them-don’t just collect them, thinking you’re saving them for a special occasion.  In the meantime, tuck scented soaps into your sock drawer to scent your toes.  Same with candles, use them or give them to someone that will get pleasure form them.
  • Vases:  If you’ve ever received flowers, chances are they’ve come in a glass vase.  If you don’t use them, recycle them.  Keep the ones you might actually use and recycle the rest.  Keep the ones you have filled with flowers.

Organized Home, Less Cluttered

Back to School Boot Camp

Organization is the key for avoiding stressful school mornings.  To help you get “in shape” for the start of school we’re going to share our favorite tips to get Back to School Organized

Tip #1-Pick out school outfits for the week…Sunday is the perfect day to do this.  Have children stack shirts & shorts together so they can dress themselves.  This photo has two great ways to display the clothes (hanging shelves or labeled hangers), pick the one that fits your space the best.  Busy moms and dads may also find this tip helpful!!

clothes for week

Tip #2-Create a home file with a slot for each subject; color code the tabs to match with any folders used for each class.  Not only does this system give kids a place to unload weekly papers, it also helps them organize reference materials as the year changes.  You can even make one file labeled “papers for mom and dad”. These inexpensive creates come in lots of colors so let your kids pick their favorite one.

Home File - Tip 2

Tip #3-Create a snack bin in your pantry for the kids.  Place bins on a low shelf that they can reach and be sure to bag up snacks in healthy portion sizes.  You can even have the kids help, so they know what is available when they are hungry.  This is a great habit to get into as it makes packing lunches so much easier.

Snacks

Tip #4-Hang a calendar in a centrally located place in your home.  The kitchen refrigerator often works well or anywhere that is frequently accessed and visible to all family members.  Select a colored pen or marker for each family member.  Attach a magnetic strip to the pen/marker, so they don’t get lost.  record each family members important events on the calendar: practices, games, recitals, appointments, birthday parties, tests/projects due dates, etc.  This way you can keep your busy family activities scheduled.

calendar

Tip #5-Getting ready the night before will help make for calm mornings, less stress and fewer forgotten items.  Some things to do the night before:

  • Pack lunches
  • Pick out school clothes (if you didn’t follow Tip #1)
  • Gather sports/dance/other activity items needed for the next day
  • When homework is completed, put it directly into backpacks
  • Put backpacks in the car or at the front door

Starting things off RIGHT!

We thought that we would start our blog with our absolute favorite and most Purposeful organizational strategy! How is that for a ringing endorsement? It is important to know that not only do we ALWAYS recommend this strategy to our clients but we practice it ourselves.  We say “practice” because it doesn’t come naturally-nope, not even to Professional Organizers.  Lastly, this is not rocket science but it definitely changes your life and way of doing things.  If you are a procrastinator buckle up!

Two-Minute Rule:

You should NOT put off anything that takes you less than 2-minutes to do

Remember, we told you it wasn’t rocket science.  Here is why we recommend it: If you put something down after you’ve picked it up and determined what you need to do with it, you’ll just have to re-remember it later.  This means that when you come across the item in the future, you will have to repeat that process again.  That is a waste of your time, maybe just a couple minutes but these minutes add up.  So once you pick it up and determine that it will take you less than two minutes to deal with it, DO IT THEN.

Here are a couple ways to think about this rule:

  • Sorting mail:  “batch your tasks.  This means when you sort your mail, place anything that will take more than 2 minutes to deal with in an “action” bin.  Put junk mail in your recycle bin. Resolve any action that takes less than 2 minutes to deal with, then file accordingly after completion.  Set aside time during the week to resolve any items in your “action” bin.
  • Laundry-Take piles directly to designated rooms upon folding.  Put away-it really doesn’t take that long to put laundry away, might be a bit longer than 2 minutes, but then it is done.
  • Donations/Returns-If you have items to donate or return to the store, put them directly in your car.  No sense in taking them from one room in the house, to another, then eventually to your car.  Why touch it and think about it multiple times? Why increase the chances of forgetting about it? We recommend that you keep a crate or bin in the car for these items.