Winter doesn’t officially arrive for another couple of weeks but you wouldn’t know that here in the Northeast. So, it’s time to organize your personal winter wonderland. When the first cold weather hits, we tend to dig through last year’s collection for a hat and some gloves for the commute or waiting for the school bus. Before that first snowstorm or stretch of cold weather, take the time to purge and curate your winter and cold weather gear. This step is really key if you didn’t work through this process last spring prior to putting all your items away. And if you’re like most people, you didn’t; don’t feel bad – this is your chance to start off the season on the right foot.
Getting your winter on
Pull everything out and create a big pile. Doesn’t that feel satisfying?! Now sort through and find all the matches. Did you find an unmatched pair of gloves or mittens? If you feel pretty comfortable that the mate is not tucked away amongst the swimwear, let it go. Unless it’s an Italian leather glove or cashmere mitten, letting go of the unmatched item is no big loss. Like its distant cousin the unmatched sock, we spend way too much time trying to find the corresponding mate. Check scarves and hats for stains and holes. Launder anything that needs cleaning. (Remember – if your items are delicate or woolen, wash items before storing for the off-season. Moths love dirt and sweat and will gravitate to those items.) Repeat this process with coats and jackets. Check pockets for mittens and gloves and anything else left in there. Did you pick up some new items at end of season sales in the spring? Let go of anything outgrown or unneeded to keep what you will really. How about your footwear? Are all the boots matched up? Pull out anything that needs repair or resoling and get these to the cobbler asap.
Being organized isn’t about boxes and bins; it’s finding my stuff when I need it. Keep your winter gear prepared and organized because winter is coming…
On the road again
I recently did a social media post on keeping your car uncluttered. And it got a LOT of attention. Your car is an extension of the rest of your personal space because it’s full of the spillover from your personal and work life. Your gym bag, stuff to be returned to the store, stuff to go into the house or office are all in there. Americans spend a lot of time in the car – on average 18 DAYS per year. Is it any wonder that our car is just as cluttered as our other spaces? Thankfully, decluttering your car is an easy fix. If you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed by all the clutter in your life, start in the car – it’s a small, confined space and clearing it out is really satisfying.
Let me just clear off this seat….
Are you the person who gladly lets others drive the carpool? Is someone else riding with you a deal-breaker? Then you need to get your car clutter under control. After you’ve removed the obvious – the trash and anything going into the house or office – start to make a list for the rest. Once items go into the car, it can become a stopping point for completing the task. Write a list of where the remaining items need to go: to the store for the dreaded returns, to your brother’s to return the drill, to the donation center with the charitable items. Keeping spaces uncluttered needs to become a habit. The good news is that this is a pretty simple and straightforward one: always empty your car when you get home. Take out the Target bags, remove the gym bag for laundering, throw out the trash…
Don’t let the car become a black hole of uncompleted tasks – write it down so you can get it done. Are you seeing my social media posts? I share lots of great information there. Follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – see you there soon!
Why is this system no longer working for me?
One of the first messages I share with an organizing client is that organizing is an intuitive process. It is intuitive to you and your family (or company) and needs to work in the context of your life. From there, we can create systems and solutions that address those individual challenges. But what happens when “good systems” go “bad” and stop working? Even the best systems and solutions need to be adaptive to changing situations, both from a physical sense and a time perspective. Did the awesome filing system you created for your company fail to keep pace with your organization’s growth? The result may be that the filing is now disorganized. Did the great toy solutions you created in your playroom for your toddler fail to keep pace with your child’s more sophisticated electronics? So, how do I know if this system is no longer working for me?
Creating flexible systems…
As the old adage goes, “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater”. If a system or solution stops working, don’t trash it, tweak it. High schoolers’ backpacks don’t fit in the little mudroom cubbies? Move hooks higher in a mudroom or transitional space to accommodate larger items and make the space more usable. Switch up baskets for bins which can hold bulkier items. Is your closet overflowing? Purge the unwanted and unneeded – we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time so there’s likely a lot of unworn stuff taking up valuable real estate. In a playroom, remove small toy bins and open shelving up to accommodate larger toys and electronics. Weed through your files and shred old, unnecessary documents that you can reproduce online. Buy bigger filing cabinets to comfortably hold your necessary files – and congratulate yourself on your company’s growth. Read more about creating an effective filing system here.
Setting up an organizing system is an intuitive process and should be both adaptive and flexible to growth and change. Our situations change so our organizing solutions and systems need to keep pace.
Now, where did I put that?
The average American spends 40 minutes a day trying to find something that is misplaced. That’s almost 5 hours a week that could be better spent on other priorities. The top offenders in the “where is it?” category are wallet, car keys, purse and mobile phone. So, how do you create an organizing solution so that you never waste that time again? First, create a “home” for an item. My wallet, when not in my pocket, “lives” on my bedroom bureau. In the house, my purse hangs on a hook in the mudroom. I hang my car keys on the key rack in the mudroom when I enter the house. I carry my mobile phone in my pocket or in the house, it lives on the “charging shelf” in the kitchen. By creating a routine and a system, we have a go-to spot for our things, resulting in much less lost time searching for lost items. But what if I forgot to hang up my keys or my wallet fell out of my pocket, then what?
Ooops, there it is…
Have you ever tried to walk out of the house only to find that your wallet or keys is not where they should be? Or misplace your cellphone in the house and you can’t call it because it’s dead or on silent? While I’m generally not a “product person”, I recently found a product that I recommend to everyone. Tile is a small electronic piece that you can add to your keychain (the Tile Mate) and slip into a wallet, purse or adhere to many electronics (Tile Slim). Once you download the Tile app to your smart phone, you can “ring” the Tile to find the missing item. If the cellphone is the item you’ve misplaced, you can use a computer or any other Tile. Out of earshot? The Tile will show up on a map, showing you exactly where the item is.
Losing keys or a wallet and scrambling around to find our missing items is stressful and time-consuming. Creating a “home” for your items is a great Plan A and Tile is a great Plan B+.
Why is closet organization important?
Who hasn’t struggled at one time or another with a closet that just won’t cooperate? Getting dressed and out the door is critical to a less stressful life – we do it at least once a day! So why does the closet remain such a struggle for many of us?
If your goal is to become more organized overall and improve your time management, a great place to start is in your closet. Here are some closet organizing tips to get started.
– Make sure you have proper lighting. Can you see into the back corners of your closet where clothes are lurking? Battery operated lights will make seeing everything in your closet a snap.
– Start from the bottom up and tackle everything that’s on the floor. In a rush, we tend to dump items on the floor figuring we’ll get to them later but instead they continue to pile up and we can’t find what we need when we need it.
– Pull out empty hangers – even wire hangers take up a lot of room
and make pulling out items difficult if they are caught up with empty hangers. And take your hangers on your next run to the dry cleaner – they will recycle and reuse them.
How do I keep my closet organized?
– Hang it up! Install metal butler hooks or removable command hooks for a multitude of items including hooded sweatshirts, belts, pajamas, accessories, etc and you’ve immediately found more room within your closet.
– Purge, purge and purge some more! Pull out the stuff you really don’t love or don’t wear and donate or consign it. It does you no good sitting in your closet taking up valuable “real estate”.
Closets can be challenging spaces. Clothes are much more than just things you wear – they are memories of special times and events and represent motivation and sometimes disappointment. Working with an organizing professional can help you break through your roadblocks and keep what you love and get rid of the rest….
What, exactly, is this charger for??
Have you ever picked up a cord or charger and thought “what the heck is this cord for?” The speed of technology has increased dramatically in just a few years. As a result, we’ve upgraded our tablets, computers and phones so many times that we are left with a jumble of cords and wires we can’t identify and are terrified to throw out “just in case”. So what’s a first good step to organizing your technology jumble? Start by labeling your current technology. Using a label maker or masking tape, create a label. Use simple names like “Lisa’s iPhone”, “Conor’s Kindle”, “Brett’s MAC” – you get the idea…Don’t be afraid to over tag – it’s better to have more tags than not. As an added step to managing and organizing your technology tangle, create a “technology box”. Store spare cables and plugs, extra headphones, a travel technology kit – whatever you need most frequently. And keep the box in one spot in the house or office. This will eliminate the hunt for an extra charging cord or new headphones when needed. Now, what about the mystery cords lurking in desks, drawers and baskets all over the house?
Step one – gather all the cords, chargers, techno-stuff together. Be sure to check kids’ rooms too – technology will migrate there as your kids get older. Don’t forget all the learning and educational toys your child once used. The Leap Frogs, learning tablets and the like might not be in current use but are likely still hanging around and the cords might be separated from the device. Then one by one, try to figure out which device the cord goes with. Hint – check the battery plug. The plug will often have the manufacturer’s name on it. Do your best to figure out what goes with what but don’t obsess. If you haven’t missed it recently, it’s unlikely you’ll miss it in the future.
DON’T throw those unneeded and mystery cords and chargers in the trash – techno trash is a real problem. Take them to Best Buy or Staples and drop them off for proper recycling.