Spending more time at home?

Most of us have been spending more time at home whether we like it or not. Since the stay at home orders due to covid-19 we have all been feeling a little cooped up. This brings me to the big question of how do you feel about your home environment? Does your home make you feel stressed? Is it full of clutter, piles and unfinished projects? Or does you home feel a little blah and unfinished…no art on the walls, no color, no finishing touches? Or is your home almost the way you want it but it feels like it is missing a little something? It just doesn’t feel like you and your style?

Basically, all of these problems are caused for the most part by indecision. Yes sometimes it may be a lack of money or time but most of the time we get stuck living with the way things are and accept it. For example, I had a client one time who I was helping de clutter and stage her house to sell. When I opened the door to the small closet in the kitchen that should have been the pantry I was shocked. The client was using this closet for coats and then she revealed that canned goods were stored behind the row of coats and completely inaccessible and out of sight. I asked her why she had never made this a pantry and she didn’t really have an answer. She set it up that way when she moved in and got used to the challenge of it and accepted it as her only solution. Once I suggested we move the coats to the appropriate bedroom closets and purchase a small coat rack for the front entry she was excited to design the space as a pantry. One call to a handyman and wooden shelves were installed in the back with narrow shelves on the side for cans and condiments. She was thrilled with the transformation and only wished she had done it in time for her family to enjoy it more. Although, it did help the house sell!

A common theme with clients moving and having their houses staged is why did I not do these things sooner? I love the way my house feels and functions so much more now. Years ago I attended a seminar and one class completely stuck in my mind. The class was called “the eyes of a stranger”. The concept is a fairly simple one. Walk in your front door as if you are a stranger seeing everything for the first time. You would be amazed how you notice things differently.

During this crazy time with all of us spending more time at home try to look at your house through the eyes of a stranger. Sometimes the smallest changes can yield the biggest results and really change the way you feel about your home.

Why buying in bulk does not always save you money…

Lately, I have had quite a few situations with clients who like to go to Costco or Sam’s Club to buy in bulk and save money. There are also many clients who have embraced Amazon’s auto ship policy. But is this really saving you money??

As a professional organizer I have to say more times than not buying in bulk only creates a new set of issues.

The reasons I do not agree with bulk purchases:

-Some houses just do not have the storage space for bulk purchases. Especially cases of paper towels and toilet paper.

-If storage space is limited then these bulk items have to either be shoved into a space, left in garage or maybe even scattered in different places throughout the house.

-If items are scattered throughout the house then there is a good chance you will forget what you have and buy more.

-These bulk items also steal space from the items that you need on  a regular basis.  Making it much harder to find what you use daily.

-Haven’t we all gotten on a health kick with a certain new protein powder, vitamin, or snack that we really wanted to love? But with adults and especially kids we go through phases and may grow tired of a certain product.  Then we are stuck with cases of something we no longer eat.

-Plain and simple, food has an expiration date.  If you stock up on more than you can possibly eat before the item goes bad then the food is wasted.

-Once you tire of an item then it is much better to donate to a food pantry than to just let the item gather dust and expire.

-If you are about to run out of an item there are so many websites and stores at your disposal.  With one click of a button or a 10 minute drive to the store you can replenish in no time.

I know there are situations where a bulk purchase makes a lot of sense.  For example, you need to take snacks for your child’s classroom, you are hosting a party or maybe making holiday gift baskets for your neighbors and friends.  This is the case where you may save some money.  But again how much is that annual fee to keep your membership? And when you go to buy in bulk are you tempted to pick up other items that were not on your list?

Next time you are tempted to stock up on something ask yourself these questions.  Do you really have a place to store these things? Do you really need such a large quantity? How much are your really saving?  How much time will you spend trying to find a place to store the items?

Simplifying your mornining routine… start with the bathroom

Organizing can sometimes seem daunting especially if you have limited time. However, an area that can have a huge impact are bathrooms. Products can pile up quickly and pretty soon cabinets and drawers are overflowing.  Counter tops end up  covered with things that just landed there.

After years of helping clients I have noticed almost everyone buys products that they don’t always end up liking. Because they spent money on that magic hair serum or beauty product they feel guilty getting rid of them.  But why should you keep things if they don’t work for you??

Take time to remove the products from your bathroom that you will never use. If they are practically new then you could give them away to a friend, family member or a charity that can give them to someone in need. If they are old or expired then toss and don’t look back!

Remove travel size items and store them in a bin out of the way as well.  Next time you pack for a trip you can go to the bin to replenish your toiletry bag.

If you buy extras of your favorite products then designate a place for “extras”. Either a linen closet or put away in a cabinet so they are not in the way of your daily routine.

Keep only what you use daily out on the counter in a small basket or a nearby drawer or shelf. This will keep your morning routine simple and quick and make cleaning your counter a breeze!

Summer vacations are around the corner…

summertravelSpring is flying by!  Has everyone finished their spring cleaning??  I am sure many of you are thinking ahead to the summer months and planning your next vacation.  There are many things you can do now so that your next trip is easy and you don’t  have all those last minute things to do.

Summer travel checklist:

-Go through purses, tote bags and luggage and make sure they are all empty from last trips.  Donate any pieces that you no longer use.

-Go through your toiletry bag and throw out and old expired products.  Refill travel shampoos and soaps. Make sure you have what you need for your next trip.  Make a list of anything you are missing and buy ahead of time.

-Go through your medicine cabinet and throw out any expired medications.  Make a travel first-aid kit with pain and allergy medicine, band-aids and any other travel necessities.

-Make sure your car and health insurance cards are current and keep in your wallet or car.

-Make a copy of the contents of your wallet in case it is lost or stolen.  Keep the copy in a secure place so you can access in an emergency.

-Stock your car with an umbrella, extra jacket, sunglasses, kleenex, hand sanitizer, a few trash bags and anything else you may want on the road.

-Stock your purse with a few snacks in case you get stuck somewhere and need a boost.

-Make sure your phone contact list is updated with important numbers such as doctor, vet , pet sitter, etc. in case you need to call from the road.

-Create a checklist for your next trip so you don’t forget anything.



“Too Much”

These days we all have too much.  Too much comes in many forms:  I sometimes laugh when working with a client because everyone is different and we all have our collection of something.  What is your collection?  I have seen mountains of T-shirts saved from events but never worn, shoes, shoes and more shoes… you women know what I am talking about!  With kids it is stuffed animals and collections of tiny items like legos and stuff from the last birthday party favor bag!  With hoarders stuff may come in the form of recycling or trash or rotten food.

We all have a relationship to our stuff and that is why we organizers have a job!  Do you ever think what it would be like to be free of it all?  A few clients have joked that if they lit a match and started over it might not be a bad thing.  But have you really put yourself in someone else’s shoes and thought about what it would be like to just have the clothes on your back?

I always find it helpful to get a fresh perspective.  The other day when working with a client we were talking about donation and places around town.  Everyone is familiar with Goodwill, Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, Kidney Foundation and so many others but sometimes I wonder who are we missing?  When my car is loaded down with a donation to take to Goodwill for a client, I find myself thinking I wish I could take this to someone in need right now and go right to the source.  Now I am certainly not saying that these organizations are not worthy and a great place to donate to.  But I would love to know that today or tomorrow someone has a clean shirt and new pair of shoes or a coat on a cold winter day because of me or one of my clients.

Did you know that the Charlotte Men’s Homeless Shelter houses over 500 men who would otherwise be out on the street?  Next time you are struggling with cleaning out your husband’s closet or stressing over how much money you spent on that coat that was hardly worn think about how your “TOO MUCH” can be the one cherished item someone else truly needs…