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Less is more when Decluttering

Often times when thinking about areas in your home that need attention and organization, people become overwhelmed because they think of the big projects, like the basement, the attic or the playroom. If you take smaller “bites”, you’ll be less overwhelmed and more successful.

Here’s a list of 50 areas to declutter. Most should take 20-30 minutes. Print it out and get started. Decide if you are going to tackle one task per day or one task per week and get it done! Don’t forget to schedule donation pick up for those items that haven’t been used or worn in over a year. Find next available donation pick up in your area at www.GoodDonor.org. Happy organizing!

1. Kitchen silverware drawer
2. Kitchen utensils
3. Canned goods in the pantry
4.Tea/coffee/mugs
5. Pots and pans
6. Baking sheets/pans and ingredients
7.Tupperware or other like containers
8. Sports bottles/sippy cups
9. Kids’ lunchboxes
10. Food storage wraps/foils/bags
11. Kitchen towels, linens, placemats
12. Under the kitchen sink
13. Fridge
14. Freezer
15. Glassware
16. Vitamins/medicines in the kitchen
17. Coupons and gift cards
18. Stationary
19. Bills/mail area
20. Junk drawer
21. Batteries/light bulbs
22. Cookbooks and recipes
23. Dry storage
24. Trash/Recycling area
25. Mudroom or entry way shoes/boots
26. Hall closet
27. Catalogs, magazines and newspapers
28. Family room coffee table/end tables
29. DVDs and gaming console games
30. Laundry area
31. Guest bathroom linens
32. Bedroom nightstands
33. Scarves/purses/bags
34. Jewelry
35. Sock drawer
36. Athletic clothes
37. Pajamas
38. Bathroom beauty supplies
39. Bathroom shower/tub
40. Cough/cold/first aid supplies
41. Bed linens and towels
42. Craft supplies
43. Sports equipment
44. Holiday decor: Valentine’s
45. Holiday decor: Easter
46. Holiday decor: Halloween
47. Holiday decor: Thanksgiving
48. Holiday decor: Christmas/Hannukah
49. Cleaning supplies
50. Car

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Christmas cards!!

Some friends feel strongly that they want to hand address their Christmas or holiday cards. While I admit, it does look more personal, depending on how many cards you send out, it can take A LOT longer to hand address them vs. printing out some cute address labels. Also, even if you hand address cards a few at a time, after writing out a few addresses, I don’t know about you, but I would not like what my handwriting looks like! Plus, I’d rather get the whole job done at once vs. doing it over a few days, but that’s just me.

I use Avery #18863 clear labels or Avery #5163 white labels to address our holiday cards. (I used them for birth announcements too!) There are 10 labels per page. The thing about using labels for your holiday cards, is that you can play with fonts and add images. I like to use a larger font for the recipient name, usually in a fancier script andimage then the address in an all caps font for contrast. These Avery labels are large enough to accommodate the use of different size fonts as well as including an image if you wish, such as a wreath or Christmas tree.

I use the Word template that corresponds to the labels and make address changes and additions to the list each year. Not in a bah-bum-bug scroogey way, but there are also a few deletions each year too. For example I don’t send Christmas cards to teachers from previous years and their sport teams change too, so I don’t necessarily send them to their previous year’s coaches or teams in their entirety either.

I used to print out return address labels, but a couple of years ago I ordered a return address stamp from Tiny Prints. They offer a variety of styles. Ours has a script “B” in the middle and then our family name and address in a circle around the “B”. I like how it looks and love the efficiency of it!

You can save yourself a trip to the Post Office by ordering your stamps in the mail. They’ll charge you a nominal fee, which can be worth it instead of waiting in a long line.

Can’t wait to see our friends and family’s holiday cards this season!

 

Garage organization. Getting ready for winter!

Just finished a project at a client’s home this morning. We had purged and organized items in the garage and decided what was going where.  I ordered an Elfa system for her from The Container Store (passing along my 20% professional organizer discount) was installation went well yesterday.  Today we got everything up off the ground. Nine bicycles in various sizes, 2 balance bikes, 3 scooters and 1 tricycle hang on one wall, along with all the helmets. One spot is was designated to hang wet snow coats and snowpants.  Gardening tools and shovels are along one wall and there is additional storage on shelves and in pull out bins for off season items like coolers, summer toys and gear, car accessories and cleaning supplies.  We both agreed, it was extremely satisfying to see the finished project.  Here are a few pictures for inspiration.  Now they can park their two cars in the garage before the snow comes!!!  IMG_2505[1]IMG_2508[1]

What’s my password??

There are so many different user names and passwords to create.  You probably have at least one email account, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram, among other social media networks, Amazon, and countless other online shopping sites, eBay, PayPal, probably some banking, Wi-Fi, professional and home computer network access and likely many more. How do you create a unique, strong password for each of these accounts that you can easily remember?

For security reasons a “strong” password contains different character types such as uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and punctuation. Here’s the problem. There is simply no way you can remember all your unique, strong passwords…or is there?

What happens is that people tend to use the same one or two passwords for all their accounts. They use children’s or pet’s names or birthdates which are hackable. Even with using these predictable passwords, sometimes you’re not sure which one password you chose, right? So you go through the few different passwords you typically use  hoping to get in and that you don’t get locked out of the account. Easy to remember?  Sort of.  But are your accounts secure? No.

What I recommend to clients is to create a mini-password that includes uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and punctuation. For example, “Jb12*”.  Let’s say we are creating (or changing) an Amazon account password.  Determine an uppercase/ lowercase pattern the name of the account, Amazon, for example “aMAZON”, “amazoN”, or “aMazon”. Let’s call this the sub-password.  Then add the mini-password to the sub-password.  So, for example, if you’ve choosen “aMAZON” as the sub-password + mini-password “Jb12*” = “aMAZONJb12*”, a unique, strong password. How is that easy to remember? This is what your Facebook password would be: “fACEBOOKJb12*”.  This is what your Container Store password would be: “cONTAINERJb12*”.  Your mini-password stays the same added to the beginning or end of the sub-password for the account.

You could also use a good old fashioned address book to store your various user names and passwords, but you’ll need to keep it up to date and you’ll need to dedicate a place to keep it where it’s safe and where you’ll always be able to find it. There are also password manager apps but you’ll also need to create a user name and password for that account too!password_1

Organizing girls’ hair accessories!!

My husband is one of 3 boys.   We have 2 daughters ages 7 and 5 and more pink and purple girly things than he could have ever imagined.  We have a fair amount of head bands, barettes, clips and hair ties.  How to keep it all organized?  I’ll share how we organize ours, and a couple of other ideas.

I bought a decorative basket at HomeGoods that measures around 15″ x 12″.  The headbands “sit” along two sides of the basket in rainbow order, which makes it easier to find one to (hopefully!) coordinate with their outfit.  I actually repurposed packaging from two Melissa and Doug crafts (Decorate your own heart box or something similar) and placed them inside the basket to keep large hair ties, small hair ties, metal hair clips, small jaw clips, and other hair clips organized.  You could also purchase a divided tray like this one at The Container Store.   Ribbon and other “stretchy” headbands hang on a couple of 3M Command hooks.   This hair station is in the bathroom on the first floor, where they often do their hair right before breakfast.  You could also place the divided tray into a bathroom drawer and hang headbands on a few 3M Command hook inside the cabinet door or on the wall.   Our hair brush and detangling spray sit inside the basket.  You could use a divided tray like this one that has many sections and separate small hair accessories by color.

I found this hair accessory organizer on Etsy– hair clips get attached to the ribbons which I like because you can see each one, headbands get hung on the rod at the bottom.  You can hang this kind of organizer with a clear Command hook and use a small tray acrylic or other decorative tray to hold brush, hair detangler and small container of hair ties.  Sometimes brushing their long beautiful and tangly hair is so painful (to me and to them!) finding a hair tie or barrette shouldn’t be!

hair station

 

 

Just do it!

There are really two parts to organizing any space. The first is to declutter and organize the space and contents and the second is to keep it organized.  When figuring out how to organize any space, solutions need to fit.  It needs to feel right for you.  You know whether or not you are likely to keep up a particular solution.  One solution might be a better fit over another.  For example, if you often misplace your car keys, do you think you can keep up with a solution of putting them in the same spot every time you come into your home? Or does putting them in the side pocket of your car door seem like a better solution?  You know what will work best for you.

The second part is maintenance.  Keeping up with the solution.   Making it a habit.  Once you designate a spot for your keys or    (fill in the blank)    you have to put your things away!   I say that a lot in our house!  It’s much easier to put things away when you know where they belong so just do it.  Make it a habit to put things away and encourage family members to do the same. When you are going upstairs, don’t walk empty handed, take some things with you that you know belong upstairs.  It takes discipline to maintain an organized space.

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Turn the “dumping ground” into functional space

So, you want to convert the “dumping ground” in your home into usable space. First, you have to clean out the space.  Decide what you are keeping and the rest goes!  Easier, said than done, right?  Well, while you may be able to take the trash and donation items to your local recycle center in several trips, you will be able to clear out the space more efficiently if you hire a clean out company.  There are many clean out or junk removal companies in the Boston metrowest area.  Clean out companies will take trash and reusable/recycleable items as well as hazardous waste (i.e. paint) and other large items such as refrigerators and microwaves.   Some clean out companies will dismantle larger items such as pool tables and home gym equipment.

When  hiring a clean out company, have 2 or 3 different companies come by to give you an estimate.  Make sure they are licensed and insured.  The estimate should include how many people will come to clean out your space and what type of vehicle they will use to clean it out (pick up truck, van, dump truck or box truck?)  Ask how long they think it’ll take to clean out the space.   Ask if there are additional charges for removing paint, referigerator, or other bulky items or for dismanteling any larger pieces.

I’ve been using Beantown Clean Outs at my clients for a while now and they have always done a great job.  They are reliable, efficient and fair.   (781) 620 2623  Tell Bill I sent you!

clean out