Monday, May 30, 2011

Keep the memories, not the stuff.

When I moved back to Ohio after 18 years, I was confronted with a huge pile of junk that had been collected up throughout my childhood.  It seemed as if we had saved everything.  

Indeed, we had.  Before I moved home from Iowa, I de-cluttered there.  At the time, I realized that I had every bill and bank statement that I had ever received in my entire life and at 30 that was a ton of paperwork to drag around the country.  I realized then that I did not need statements from closed bank accounts.  No one was ever going to ask for 10-year-old water bills.  I tossed it all except for a few pieces for memories.  It was so liberating!

So, when I encountered the much older pile of childhood items I already knew that I did not have to keep it all to remember that I had in fact been a child once.  I set to going through it all.  I re-experienced the memories from that time as I went through the stuff.  Many things had been ruined by water and mold.  I looked them over and let them go.  I had all the school papers from kindergarten through high school graduation.  I went through them sifting out only the most interesting examples and photos.  I reduced the massive pile down to a few banker boxes that I stored in a safe dry location to prevent further decay.

Later as I had the time, I began to go through the papers that I saved.  I sorted them by grades and major events in my life.  I decided that if I was going to keep any of this, I wanted to be able to pull it out and look at it any time that I wanted to.  I choose to scrapbook the items.  Now I am not an avid scrap-booker but I do realize that albums are a fine way to archive items so that you can easily look at them later.  As I finish the project, I will also photograph the pages to have a digital version.

Keeping memories and a sense of who we are does not require keeping everything we ever own.  Scrap booking is not for everyone but there are plenty of ways to keep memories without keeping a ton of stuff.  Other alternatives for saving memories include making a tableau, frame a small collection in a shadowbox; keep a sample of items in a memory box and digital photographs of large items or collections.  What other ways can you think of to keep the memories without the stuff?

Give yourself permission to let go of the items.  Ask yourself if you are honoring the items that you hold so dear.  Are they being cared for or molding in a basement or garage?  What does it cost to keep everything?  Are you paying for storage or sacrificing living space?  Do you really want the items?  Be honest with yourself.

It takes courage to de-clutter the things that hold our memories of ourselves and our loved ones.  It is not always a task to do alone or for the faint of heart.  If you need support or feel overwhelmed by the project, look for a professional organizer in your area.  Check out for a directory of organizers in your area.  Or call Simply Andi at 740-334-1928 for simply positive change.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Organizing anytime, anywhere

Organizing can happen anywhere, anytime.  While you won't be able to organize your underwear drawer while you are sitting at a red light you certainly can take a few seconds to pick up the lunch wrappers sitting in the passenger's seat and put them in a bag to toss at your destination.  If you begin to think about organizing as a process that is always happening, you will see how it can fit in to all areas of your life.

You do not have to begin organizing yourself by tossing everything and starting over.  Organizing is about making small conscious decisions about the things we keep around us.  Over time the small decisions make it easier to automatically know how you will handle something.

For instance, you may not like that your kitchen counter is full of stuff.  If you begin by deciding that you want a clean counter and consciously thinking about each item that you add to the counter, it is likely that eventually the counter will be clean continuously.  However, many people sweep the counter clean, shove everything in a drawer or cupboard without thinking about where anything went.  In a few days a whole new batch of stuff is cluttered on the counter.

Instead, before you add something to the counter, ask yourself, "does this belong here?"  Are you putting it on the counter to remember to do something with it?  Will you pick it up and put it away later?  Will it take less than a minute to put it away, why not do it now?

You can also try using the time it takes to heat something, like tea, in the microwave to de-clutter the counter.  Choose a category and pick up those items.  Maybe there is junk mail all over the counter.  Choose the pieces that you aren't going to read or act on and toss them out.  You can do this with any item on the counter and repeat the process until all that is left are the items that you want on the counter.

Be careful, organizing can be come addictive.  Once you organize one area you will want to organize others.  Be addicted to your positive change.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Do you ever feel like you live in your car?

I sure do.  I have days when I travel between clients and appointments all day long.  I'm in and out of the car multiple times.  I never know just what I will need for a particular stop so I tend to stock common items just in case.  I have also never been much of a purse person, probably because I pack it too full to carry, so my car becomes a pocket book on wheels.  With all this stuff, it takes a bit of organization to keep it under control.

Create a portable office.  I know there are days when I will have spare time but I can't make it back to the office to work.  I still get plenty done with the portable office that I have created in a computer bag.  In the bag, I keep my laptop, which has files synced from the desktop computer, it power cords along with a cord to sync and power my phone.  I keep a limited supply of business cards, brochures and fliers for networking and travel versions of basic office supplies.  I go through my bag regularly to see if there are any items I can live without or that I haven't used in a long time.  I remove these to lighten the load.

Keep it in reach.  Driving distractions are deadly.  Do everything you can to keep your attention on the road.  Keep the things you may need while on the road in easy reach in an organizer on the passenger seat.  There are many styles and varieties to choose from.  I picked a scrap-booking tote with a ton of pockets.  I limit myself to the things that fit and review the contents regularly removing anything that I don't need.  I can quickly move the tote to the back seat or trunk when I have a passenger or I don't want to look at the items.

Put it in the trunk.  All the items that you need regularly but never need in reach can go in the trunk.  Think of the trunk as your portable supply closet for extra business cards, brochures, tools, change of clothes or gym clothes and anything else you may require.  Use a tub or bin to keep the items together for easy removal on the weekends when the trunk needs to be used for your personal life.

Kick it out.  The more time you spend in your car the more you will accumulate in it that does not belong.  Begin making a habit of collecting anything that does not belong in the car and putting it away.  The time you spend in the car will be more relaxed making you more efficient and a safer driver.  Keep a bag handy for trash and toss daily.  Look through your vehicle weekly, at least, for anything that does not belong.  You will be amazed at the items that collect in the car.

Not sure where to start, call me for a free consultation to see how I can help, 740-334-1928

Monday, May 9, 2011

Are you ready to go play?

If you are like me, you are probably keeping a close eye on the weather this time of year looking for opportunities to sneak outside for some much needed fresh air and sunshine.  My favorite activity for a nice afternoon is a ride on my bike, nothing makes me feel more like a kid.  I consider my garage the grown-up version of a toy box.  The toys are just bigger and a bit more expensive these days.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I hate wasting time looking for gear when I really want to be outside having fun.  In addition to keeping the garage uncluttered, you will be able to get to your favorite activities faster if all your gear is organized by activity.

Take a look at your space and determine a good location that is out of the way when you are not using your gear and easily accessible when you are heading out.  For my bike gear, this is two places, one that is right inside the garage door for my current bike, helmet and shoes and on the back wall for the rest of the bikes that I don't ride everyday.  I chose these areas because I want to be able to easily access my bike when my car is in the garage.  I usually ride from the house so this is important to me.  I can change clothes, walk out in to the garage grab my bike and gear and be on the road in a matter of minutes.  I have no excuses for not getting out and riding.  The other bikes are in the back since I rarely need them and they would be in the way up front.

Once you know where you gear is going to live, give each item its own space or hook.  Make it so easy to find things that you never have an excuse to not do your favorite activity.  You will also be more likely to put things away where they belong if there is a definite place for each item.  Don't make yourself have to decide what to do with something each time you are finished with it.  Decide once and forget about it.

Now get out there and go play!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Get ready to garden!

Spring is definitely here and we have all had more than enough of the rain.  Our lawns are crying out for attention in between the rain drops as the weeds threaten to take over.

I don't know about you but I usually avoid tasks that take too much time to get ready to do or find the tools.  Getting all your yard work gear together helps you spend more time on the tasks that need to be done and more importantly more time enjoying the fruits of your labor.

Invest a few hours in gathering up all your lawn and garden equipment.  Take a good look at the items you have.  Are they in good working order or have they seen too many seasons?  Toss, donate or re-purpose anything that is not usable.

Next, determine if there are any tools that you will need to weed, plant or trim.  Make sure to take stock of tools that have replaceable parts and make a note of parts that need to be replaced now and ones that will need to be replaced soon or during the season.  Purchase these items ahead of time and store with the lawn and garden tools.  Nothing is more frustrating that having to stop and make a trip to the store instead of getting the job done.

Make a home for all you yard and garden tools and supplies.  Remove anything that does not belong in the space so that items are easy to access and put away.

Now you can enjoy hassle free sessions in the yard all summer long.

If you have specific questions regarding garage or shed storage call 740-334-1928 for a complimentary 1 hour consultation.