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Clutter Awareness

The word “clutter” derives from the Middle English word “clotter,” which means coagulate. Think stagnant, accumulated… stuck! When clutter invades our homes and offices, it can make us disorganized. We lose things, forget to pay bills, procrastinate, and waste time. So stop contemplating your clutter and dedicate some time to conquering it!

  • Define “clutter.” Clutter is anything unnecessary and extraneous. It can be more than the physical clutter most of us think of. Getting organized means clearing out the clutter in your mind, heart, and life.
  • Start the process of decluttering. Start small. Divide your desk or room into sections. Pick one section (like one drawer or cupboard) and begin decluttering. Try to touch things only once while going through this process — quickly make a decision to keep or toss!
  • Ask yourself if you consider each item beautiful, useful, or loved. If not, you can probably get rid of it! If you’re still not sure if you should get rid of an item, ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that could happen if I toss this?” The answer may help give you the power to discard the clutter.
  • To stop clutter, prevent it from accumulating in the first place. Don’t give clutter a chance to form. As you’ve probably experienced, once clutter occupies a space, it has a way of multiplying. Always remember to place your emphasis on quality over quantity. In other words, it’s not important to have a lot of things, many of which you never use. It’s more beneficial to have fewer things, all of which you use and/or enjoy.
  • Think before you buy. Try to look beyond the initial “thrill of the purchase” and see what provides deeper moments of meaning. Once you rid yourself of clutter and make space only for what’s special, you’ll find it’s easier to get — and stay — organized!

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Purposeful Parenting

OuttaSpaceOrganizing.com

It’s a great time to teach a child to get organized! Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, friend, or neighbor, the skills you share will remain with kids for a lifetime. Here are some tips that can be used with your favorite kids of all ages.

  • Make organizing a part of each day. It’s important to teach kids that every item they own has a “home” where it needs to return to when they’re done using it. Let kids know that they need to be responsible for their own possessions. Establish simple routines like making their own beds and keeping the floor clear. Have a ten-minute clean-up every night before bedtime.
  • Sort and containerize. Teach kids to group similar items together, and then find appropriate-sized containers that hold them. With colorful markers, write the name of what’s inside. This makes it easy for retrieval, and, even more importantly, for clean-up! For kids who can’t yet read, glue photos or drawings of the objects on the front of the containers.
  • Help them downsize. Often, the sheer volume of “stuff” in a kid’s life — toys, sporting equipment, books, collections, clothes — is overwhelming. Help kids downsize every six months by donating seldom-used toys and outgrown clothing. Establish a “new toy in, old toy out” system where some purging takes place before shopping. Talk to them about how it feels — and how important it is — to donate to local charities.
  • Establish a great homework routine. Use an “in” and “out” box system for school papers that need to be seen by caregivers. Have a designated study area. Keep it well-stocked with supplies so kids don’t have an excuse to leave the area. Caregivers should learn that they don’t have to save every single project made by the child. Post them temporarily, then take them down and store in a drawer, tote. At year’s end, help kids select their “Top 10” favorite to save. And if you’re overwhelmed or desire more tips, find out how I can help you and your family.
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Identifying Clutter with Three Easy Questions

Digits 1, 2, 3What exactly is clutter? Clutter is anything unnecessary and extraneous. It can be more than the physical clutter most of us think of. Getting organized means clearing out the clutter in your mind, heart, and life. As for the physical clutter, ask yourself the following three questions about each item in your home. If you can’t answer yes to at least one, it’s probably clutter!

1. Is it beautiful? A stunning piece of artwork enriches your life because it brings joy each time you see it. A gorgeous vase full of fresh flowers reduces stress and energizes your spirit.

2. Is it useful? You use your 12-cup coffee maker every day. You couldn’t make it through the week without it. (Don’t confuse this question with, “Will it be useful someday?”)

3. Is it loved? The antique pocket watch from your grandfather is a precious reminder of him. Your favorite cashmere sweater makes you feel fabulous.

You’ll find that as you inventory your possessions, you may be able to answer “yes” to two or even three of the questions above. Those are the things that are most valuable to you. Remember, the goal of decluttering is not to get rid of everything. It’s simply to keep only things that you truly appreciate and use.

To stop clutter, prevent it from accumulating in the first place. Don’t give clutter a chance to form. As you’ve probably experienced, once clutter occupies a space, it has a way of multiplying. Always remember to place your emphasis on quality over quantity. In other words, it’s not important to have a lot of things, many of which you never use. It’s more beneficial to have fewer things, all of which you use and/or enjoy.

Think before you buy. Try to look beyond the initial “thrill of the purchase” and see what provides deeper moments of meaning. Before you buy, think about the time you’ll spend in cleaning, storing, and maintaining that item after you bring it home. If you must buy, establish a “new item in, old item out” system where some purging takes place before shopping.

Once you rid yourself of clutter and make space only for what’s special, you’ll find it’s easier to get — and stay — organized! You’ll soon reap the benefits of a clutter-free life: more energy, happier relationships, a well-organized home or office, new opportunities, and a better outlook on life.

© 2014 Articles on Demand™

Sort It Out

Wicker baskets

With the huge variety of organizing products out there, it’s easy to become overwhelmed — and cash-strapped — when shopping for containers. As a professional organizer, I can help you demystify the myriad of bins, boxes, and baskets so you purchase products within your budget that will be beneficial for you and your spaces. You can also try some of these creative storage solutions.

The first thing — before you ever step foot in a store with the intention of buying organizing paraphernalia — is to sort, pare down, and evaluate your stuff. Whether it’s a closet crammed with clothes or a tiny junk drawer full of oddball items, you can’t contain it until you follow these steps:

1) Sort: Pick a space to tackle, and gather similar things together into piles. For example, if you’re organizing your bathroom, separate out hair-care products, first-aid supplies, towels/linens, make-up, paper products, etc. Once you can clearly see everything you have…

2) Pare down: You probably own much more than you originally thought, so start tossing! Get rid of anything broken, stained, or past its prime. Then, for remaining items, ask yourself if each item is truly beautiful, useful, or loved. If not, it’s time to go! Recycle, donate, or share those things with someone who really needs them, and then…

3) Evaluate what’s left: You probably don’t have nearly as much stuff as when you started! That’s a good thing. Now that you’re down to the essentials, you can…

4) Find the right spot: Decide where you’ll store each category of items, take note of the size of the spaces you have, and figure out what type of storage containers will work best. (Use a tape measure!) Now you can begin either shopping for new containers or creatively reusing those that you already own, saving environmental resources and money.

© 2014 Articles on Demand™

Changing Relationships: Caring for Yourself While Caring for Your Aging Parents

 

With people living longer than ever before, more and more individuals find themselves sandwiched between caring for their children and caring for their aging parents.

Coping with our fast-paced, always-connected world is stressful enough, but when you add double or triple the family responsibilities, well, it quickly gets overwhelming.

You’re probably losing time and energy worrying about things that aren’t getting done or things you have to do next. You may not realize just how much physical and mental stress you are under, or how much that has been sapping your effectiveness at work and at home. Guilt may be a constant companion. While you take care of your parents, you may feel that you’re not doing enough for your children, and vice versa.

You may experience feelings of grief and loss, as you see your parents changing and the roles of your family shifting. You may also feel fearful and anxious about your parent’s mortality, and that gets you thinking about your own.

With all of the extra time you need to take care of others, there is less time—if any—to spend on yourself and the things that recharge you.

Here are five ways to take care of yourself while taking care of your aging parents.

  1. First, meet your own needs. You can’t help anyone else if you are so sapped of energy and joy that you are miserable and lifeless. Block out time every day for something that’s just for you. Even a few minutes make a big difference. Give equal attention to your emotional, spiritual and physical needs. Protect that time as your most important appointment—because it is!
  1. Get support for your parents. Seek out government and community resources for home care, medications, support groups, mobility aids and adaptive equipment. Keep up-to-date organized records of your parents’ medical history, as well as the contact information and recommendations of everyone you consult with. If your parents are in transition to a new home, consider hiring a professional organizer (me!) to help with the process and lighten your load.
  1. Get support for yourself. Reach out to supportive friends or family members; even a short phone call can give you a much-needed lift. Or schedule lunch and enjoy your time with friends and family. If it feels right, seek out a support group, or individual therapy or counseling.
  1. Banish guilt. Accept that you’re doing your best and acknowledge the efforts you’re making. Actually list them on paper if you need to! If you notice yourself feeling guilty, ask yourself if you would want someone in the same situation as yours to feel guilty. The answer, certainly, is no.
  1. Celebrate life and family. As your family changes, focus on remembering and sharing positive memories of your life together. Also, create new rituals and traditions that everyone can participate in, such as picnics, games, crafts or time enjoying nature.

Start right now with even one of these strategies. It will feel like a breath of fresh air, loosening the grip of your tightly packed life and infusing your entire family with renewed energy and joy.