How to downsize – Empty Nester’s Guide

organized home office

How to Downsize

An Empty Nester’s Guide

organized home office

If you’ve just returned from dropping your children off at a university, or they graduated in May and are officially out of the house for good, downsizing your space might be on your radar.

Selling a large home and moving into a smaller one not only holds the promise of making life easier to manage, it can also be more cost effective. But if you’ve been in your current home for a couple decades, you’ve likely amassed a lot of stuff. When is the last time you cleaned out your attic or garage?

The key to downsizing effectively is taking a systematic approach to planning your move and organizing the space. Here are some tips.

Declutter First, Slowly

Getting rid of things you no longer need or want isn’t for the faint of heart. To manage the process of first reviewing your stuff, use these tips:

  • Tackle cleaning out spaces slowly over time. You don’t have to tackle the basement and the linen closet on the same day.
  • Make three piles: “Keep,” “Donate” and “Trash.” Don’t make a “Maybe” pile
  • Decide if you want to include a “Sell” pile (only if you actually intend to sell items).
  • To help you make decisions, ask yourself questions like, “When is the last time I used this?” and “What purpose will this serve in my new home?” If you can’t remember the answer to the first question or you don’t have an answer to the second question, it might be time to part ways.
  • Choose where you’ll donate what you no longer need. There are many options depending on what you have to donate. Check first—some donation centers prohibit specific items.
Use Space Wisely

If you’ve made the decision to downsize, you might be concerned about keeping your new space clutter-free—whether it’s a smaller house, a condo or an apartment.

To make the most out of less space, use it wisely and consider storage options which make the most out of your closets.

  • More hanging storage – If you’ve got small reach-in closets with one rod and a shelf, you can likely add a second rod to double hanging storage for your clothes.
  • Hooks and racks – Add hooks behind the door or on the side wall of your reach-in closet or in your walk-in closet to hang bags or accessories. This is also a good spot to add a tie rack or belt rack so you’re not taking up valuable space elsewhere in your closet.
  • Shelves and cubbies – Adding shelves and cubbies to a reach-in or linen closet is an excellent way to add storage that helps you avoid piling items on top of items, which can quickly contribute to clutter

hanging clothes neatIf these solutions seem appealing to you, you could also go with a completely custom solution, where a professional Designer reviews the space and helps you maximize it. It’s a better way to ensure that all of your things have a place in your new, more compact home.

Think Multipurpose

Beyond considering where you’ll keep all of your stuff, it makes sense to think multipurpose when downsizing. The spaces in your new home—and the furniture in those spaces—can pull double duty so you can get more out of them.

For example, choose an ottoman that doubles as a storage bin. Consider a kitchen island with cubbies on the side for small appliances or cook books. Maximize under-bed storage with containers or a bed with drawers below it.

And when it comes to sleeping arrangements, you can opt for a sofa bed or even a Murphy bed.

For the full article, visit Closet Works

When you need help getting your empty nest organized, reach out to Organize Me!

Organizeme! Frederick, MD

How to Organize Your Desk

organized desk

Here’s how to organize you desk

Your desk is your command center. How well it’s organized can help set the tone and productivity level

“Surveys show the average person loses an hour a day to disorganization,” said Lisa Zaslow, a professional organizer in New York City. “It takes much less time to get and stayed organized. Think about how frantic and stressed you are when you can’t find something.”

organized home office

Here’s how experts suggest organizing your desk for maximum efficiency and productivity:

Get your layout right

Your monitor should be in front of you at eye-level and about 17-inches from your body, according to Zaslow. Put frequently-used items, like the phone or supplies, on your dominant side to avoid having to reach across.

Mind your office supplies

Supplies used every day can go on the desk. Items used a couple times a week should go in a drawer under or to the side of a desk. “Getting up even just once a day for a pencil or paper clip is shutting your brain off a project you are working on and you will have to come back and re-center,” said Amy Trager, a professional organizer in Chicago.

It’s also best to group like items together. “All your office supplies should be kept together, not split up in multiple drawers,” said Andrew Mellen, a professional organizer.

Go easy on reminders.

When it comes to sticky notes, moderation is key. Framing your monitor with notes isn’t the most effective. “They’ve lost their usefulness at that point,” said Trager. Use them for important short-term reminders.

Don’t go overboard with personal knick-knacks

Maintaining work-life balance is hard, especially on your desk. Family pictures, vacation souvenirs and other trinkets can provide positive feelings during the work day, but too many mementos can be a distraction.

“Our eyes pull every single thing in front of us and our brain processes it — even if we don’t realize it,” explained Zaslow. A desk full of stuff means “that is a lot of work and editing for you.” She recommended keeping no more than three personal items on a desk.

Control your inbox.

E-mail is a convenient way to communicate, but it can also be a major distraction. If it becomes too much of a distraction, Trager recommended designating certain time periods throughout the day to check and respond to email. “The rest of the time is for work.” Also, don’t be afraid to disable the pop-up notices of new mail if it interrupts work flow.

Embrace white space

Keep a paper-sized free space to your dominant side as a designated work space to make it easier to review or sign documents.

Prioritize your work flow

Only keep relevant and active projects and documents on your desk. When work gets backed up, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and stall productivity, so here’s how Trager recommended grouping projects to prioritize:

1) Important and urgent

2) Urgent, but not necessarily important

3) Important, without urgency

4) Non-urgent, and not important

She added vertical file holders help avoid stacking folders on top of each other and overlooking the ones not on top.

Reassess frequently

Keeping a desk organized requires frequent upkeep and assessments, so be sure to take a weekly scan of your desk to make sure everything still deserves a spot on your work space.

When you are ready to get your home office in order, contact Organize Me!

For the full article by CNN Money, click here

The Ultimate Moving Guide

house showing clutter

The Ultimate Moving Guide

Moving is stressful. Here’s some help

Moving home can be a hectic and stressful time, so it’s important that you are completely prepared and have the best plan in place beforehand! And when you need help with your move, contact Organize Me! View all the details of The Moving Package here!

1. Make A Calendar 

Being as prepared as possible will make the transition a lot easier. Make sure you have all the equipment you need such as usable boxes and some extra cash at hand for surprise expenses.

2. Measure The Space

There’s nothing worse than moving all your stuff to a new place where they won’t fit!

3. Clean Up First

Make sure your new place is clean before you start to move your things in.

4. Order Utilities And Furniture In Advance

You don’t want to get into your new place and find you’re having to wait a fortnight for your bed to turn up.

5. Change The Locks

For extra security.

6. Pack The Essentials Box.

This box will contain all the things you’ll need on the first night, so you don’t have to root around in boxes looking for a bowl.

7. Decide How You’re Actually Going To Move Your Stuff.

You can move your stuff by yourself by asking family and friends to help you, or if you’re on your own a dolly cart. You could also hire a rental tuck with a driver that simply moves all your stuff from point A to point B, or you can acquire full service movers. It’s all about what’s most affordable really.

View the step by step diagram here: Ultimate Moving Guide For stress relief during your move, purchase Organize Me!’s Moving Package here: The Moving Package

Feng Shui for Better Organization

hanging clothes neat

Feng Shui Basics

A Better Closet &  More Organized Life

Whether you sat in back-to-back meetings all day and didn’t accomplish much “real work,” you spent your commute in traffic or you simply have too much to do in too little time, it’s easy to get stressed out every now and then.

One area of your life that may be contributing to feeling stressed could be coming from where you least expect it: your closet. Searching for a shirt hidden in a sea of hanging storage, struggling to find a misplaced pair of shoes or even untangling a mess of necklaces to find the right one during your morning routine can throw off your whole day.

If this is a frequent occurrence for you, it may be time to consider embracing feng shui. Understanding how to create a space with good energy flow could just be the medicine for what ails you.

What is Feng Shui?

Feng shui is the ancient Chinese practice of placement. The goal is to organize your surroundings to create harmony and balance – transforming your space to enhance your life.  It’s thought that showing respect to physical spaces—yes, even your closet—can bring more peace to your life.

Declutter, De-stress

Maybe it’s been a little while since you really took a look at what’s taking up space in your closet. Take some time to review the clothes, shoes and accessories in your closet to see everything—even the items lurking out of sight.

We often stress here to get rid of old clothes, ones that are a touch too small or have stains and holes that can’t be fixed. But it’s also important to get rid of any random items that don’t belong in your closet. Find things you can relocate to other spots in your home to create more space. The practice of feng shui sees clutter as blocking the flow of energy in your closet and life.

Color Coordinate

After discarding or donating things you no longer need, take a look at everything you’re going to keep. Color is an important “tool” in feng shui that can shift energy in a space. Start by organizing different items by color, then type. For example, first put all your blue shirts together then organize those shirts by shirt length or type. Repeat these steps for each color and type of shirt.

Spruce It Up

Take a look at what your space may be missing. Good lighting, some meaningful décor and even a fresh coat of paint could make all the difference in bringing in good energy. Paying attention to these details in your closet can help the space feel refreshed.

Redesign

Make sure you have everything you need to organize and shape your space. Analyze if you’re maximizing the utility of each drawer and hanging storage space, or if you need to find a new way to organize your things. It may mean just adding clear storage bins and drawer organizers or it could be time for a bigger upgrade to a custom solution to create a calm, decluttered space.

For the full article, click here: Feng Shui Basics from Closet Works

When you need help completing your organizing journey, contact Organize Me! here: Contact Organize Me!

Declutter 101

open shelf small space
Declutter 101: Where do I start?
Article from Organizedhome.com

clutter mess piles

Standing amid the stacks and piles, it can be hard to find a good spot to dive in and begin. Too often, de-clutter efforts fizzle along with the light of day.

This time, resolve to succeed! To get your organized journey off to a good start, try these clutter-cutting start points. They will help free a strangled household from the clutter monster.

First Step: A Single Small Success

At the outset, adjust your vision downward from the big (cluttered) picture, to zero in on one small, solvable clutter problem. Clear one counter, de-clutter one shelf, or bring order to a single drawer–and do choose an item that nags at you daily.

Beginning your war against clutter with a small success provides welcome motivation for the long haul. When you feel yourself starting to flag, returning to that one clear space, shelf or drawer will remind you of the goal–and give a new burst of energy for the next step. You can do it!

Slow and Steady Progress

Clutter tolerance seems to run a fever cycle, much like the flu. Every so often, the cluttered household will become intolerable, sparking short-lived but fiery anti-clutter efforts. Piles will be shifted, boxes will be filled, stuff will be stashed–until the fever breaks. Then the clutter tide flows back in, confusion redoubled because of the flushed and furious attempts to get a grip in a hurry.

Just as clutter arises gradually, over time, so it must be fought gradually and over time. Beating clutter requires building new habits, applying new organizational methods, and creating new household routines. The clutter cure takes time, and can’t be short-cut.

Resist the temptation to go all-out in fevered, short-term sorties against clutter. Like the fable of the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the declutter race.

Schedule Declutter Sessions

A successful attack on clutter requires time, energy and motivation. There is no such thing as a declutter fairy, who works while you sleep!

First things first: schedule time to declutter. Even 15 minutes a day will make a good start. Better, schedule larger blocks of time, from two to four hours once or twice a week, for maximum declutter efficiency.

Scheduling declutter sessions brings the goal out of the stratosphere and into real life. By committing time to decluttering, you strengthen motivation and embrace the goal of a clutter-free home. By keeping the declutter appointments, you begin to create islands, peninsulas, then continents of decluttered space.

Trust me. It won’t happen magically behind your back, so schedule your declutter appointments today!

Change Begins With Me

In family settings, clutter accumulates for myriad reasons. Adults shed newspapers and personal items with abandon. Children clutter with playthings, art materials, and school papers. Poor housekeeping routines land clean clothing in piles on the couch, paperwork in stacks on the counter and mail in jumbled heaps everywhere.

When you need help beginning your decluttering project, reach out to Organize Me!

To view the article from its original source, visit Organizedhome.com

Receipts: Keep vs Throw Away

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What Receipts Are Safe to Throw Away vs. Shred?
Free yourself of receipt clutter!

receipt clutter

 

You’ve probably heard warnings about identity theft and how professional criminals can get all the information they need to make your life miserable just by taking your old, unshredded receipts and financial documents out of the garbage dump. Those warnings are true, but you really don’t have to shred everything. You can just throw away receipts that don’t have any real identifying information.

Shred It:
Anything with even part of your credit card, bank account or Social Security number on it, along with your signature, should go right to the shredder. This includes any receipt that has your entire card, Social Security or bank account number on it, signature or no signature. Any receipt that you sign is best shredded, especially if it also includes identifying information such as your name or address. Shred anything that has any identification number along with your name, even if it is just a customer number or retailer account number.

Throw It Away
You can throw away simple cash purchase receipts such as supermarket cash register receipts. They have no information at all about you. You can even throw out receipts that just have your name and address on them. Your name and address are already on record and accessible by everyone and anyone. If the receipt shows the last four digits of your credit card number or Social Security number and it is not signed, you can throw it away.

Shred It Right
Inexpensive strip shredders just cut your documents lengthwise, and today’s pros can put them together again and get your information very easily. Spend a bit more and get yourself a cross-cut, confetti or diamond-cut shredder. Alternately, you can incinerate your sensitive documents in your fireplace or barbecue grill, but make sure they’re reduced to ash.

For help sorting through your pile of receipts, contact Organize Me!

Click here for the full article: Budget.thenest.com

Culture of Clutter in America Article

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Culture of Clutter is Taking Over America
Article by The Christian Science Monitor

A mulit-year study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Connecticut College sheds new light on the culture of clutter taking over America. It’s not pretty. The results are coming out in a book, complete with photos, called ‘Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century.’

Raise your hand if any of this sounds disturbingly familiar:

A garage that doesn’t have room for the family car because it’s filled with bikes, baseball bats, rusting tools, old furniture and possibly even a large snow blower. (Arm a-waving over here. The snow blower is a long story.) Or, how about a hall closet that can’t hold any more coats? Or a child’s room filled with more than 100 Beanie Babies?  Or a fridge covered in hundreds of pictures, magnets (even the free ones that come in the mail, because, you know, you never can have enough magnets), calendars, dry erase boards and shopping lists?

Clutter, it turns out, is a hallmark of mainstream America. (Depressing, no?)  And now a new book coming out by researchers from University of California, Los Angeles, and Connecticut College – “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century” – details just how much clutter, and promises to take a sharp look at the impact of all this stuff on daily family life.

toys organize kids frederickThe researchers immersed themselves into the daily lives of 32 families in the Los Angeles area, taking tens of thousands of photographs, hundreds of hours of video, and copious notes from first-hand observations about how people move through their homes, and what they have.

“People’s homes are a canvas for self-expression, so it is crucial to see what middle-class America buys, cherishes and displays at home, along with, in their own words, what their possessions mean to them,” said Jeanne E. Arnold, professor of anthropology at UCLA and the lead author of the book, according to the Connecticut College news service. “We measured. We photographed. We filmed. We interviewed. We gave parents and older kids cameras and they gave us narrated home tours. We now know what goes on moment-by-moment and, as our book documents, we know exactly what people keep in their homes and where and how they use things.”

Some of the findings:

  • The volume and sheer number of things in our homes is unprecedented. From toys to music collections to books to knick knacks to large quantities of paper towels bought (it was a deal!) from Costco. And managing the volume of possessions turns out to be so stressful that it elevated the level of stress hormones for moms.
  • Most families spent little time in their yards – even if they had spent a lot of money on outdoor furnishings.
  • Seventy-five percent of garages had too much stuff in them to fit cars.
  • And I love this one: The number of objects clinging to your refrigerator may indicate how much clutter can be found throughout your home.

“Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century” is coming out in August, but I am already tempted to get a trash bag and start tossing stuff.  Anything.  Because one of the other findings of the authors is that Americans are really bad at getting rid of things – we think that we’ll use them some day, or that it’s wasteful to just toss objects.

And in the meantime, the stuff takes over.

A good time, I say, to ponder consumption, materialism and how to adjust our way of life.

View the article from its original source here: Culture of Clutter 

For assistance in trying to make your life less materialistic and clutter free, contact Organize Me! Scheduling available here: Schedule with Organize Me!

Photo provided by Photography By Barb