Sadly, I have not written a post in awhile and we have all been in this crazy pandemic life for almost a year now. Wow… it really has felt like a long year. I think we can all agree we will never take those small things for granted again. The pandemic has made many of us really evaluate what we do truly miss and what we are actually happy has changed. Many of us have slowed down from our busy schedules and realized this slower pace is kind of nice. So it’s not all bad, right?
The new norm right now has become lots of people working from home and many kids doing remote learning. When the whole family is home the majority of the week and you are all sharing a space it can get tricky. Balancing work with school and making sure everyone is set up for success in whatever space you have available.
This brings me to the question of “How does your house make you feel?” If you are constantly stressed out and tripping over each other and piles of stuff then something needs to change. Your house should support you and be a space you can relax in. ( I’m not saying you will never be stressed but at the end of the day you should be happy to wind down in your space. So what can you do to make small changes that will make a big impact on how you view your house? The key is to set up systems that work for your family and are easy to maintain.
Start by making everyone responsible for their work space. If you or your spouse have a d home office or desk set up somewhere then set boundaries that no work is allowed on the kitchen table. If you have to use the kitchen or dining room table as a temporary workspace then set a boundary that by dinnertime the space needs to be cleared each day. This will work as well for children that are using it for remote learning or homework. Getting them a little utility cart or small bin for all of their supplies will make it easy to clean up and find things the next day.
Set up a drop zone somewhere in the house where items land on your way in or out of the house. If you don’t have a large mudroom or designated space you can create one easily with a little table, bookcase with cubbies (like the IKEA Kallax) or a bench with storage. This is where shoes, keys, phones, purses,dog leashes, masks and hand sanitizer can land to avoid cluttering up other surfaces. Hang a decorative hook on the wall for keys and masks or set up a bowl or tray to keep them in.
Keep the family room as clutter free as possible by using baskets and other storage to hide blankets, remotes, kids toys, etc. There are so many great pieces that double as storage; like coffee tables and ottomans. The biggest mistake I see is when parents let the kids treat the family room as their playroom. This space should be for kids and adults. If the kids want to have some toys or games in here then do a toy rotation. That way the majority of their stuff stays in their rooms or playroom. At the end of each night or beginning of each day have them help you put things away.
Lastly, this is an important one…your bedroom is not a dumping ground for laundry and odds and ends. I hear clients says all the time that no one sees it so it doesn’t matter. YOU see it!!!! So it does matter. More on this soon…
So ask yourself what you can do right now to make your home feel better and be easier to maintain?
Most of us have been spending more time at home whether we like it or not. Since the stay at home orders due to covid-19 we have all been feeling a little cooped up. This brings me to the big question of how do you feel about your home environment? Does your home make you feel stressed? Is it full of clutter, piles and unfinished projects? Or does you home feel a little blah and unfinished…no art on the walls, no color, no finishing touches? Or is your home almost the way you want it but it feels like it is missing a little something? It just doesn’t feel like you and your style?
Basically, all of these problems are caused for the most part by indecision. Yes sometimes it may be a lack of money or time but most of the time we get stuck living with the way things are and accept it. For example, I had a client one time who I was helping de clutter and stage her house to sell. When I opened the door to the small closet in the kitchen that should have been the pantry I was shocked. The client was using this closet for coats and then she revealed that canned goods were stored behind the row of coats and completely inaccessible and out of sight. I asked her why she had never made this a pantry and she didn’t really have an answer. She set it up that way when she moved in and got used to the challenge of it and accepted it as her only solution. Once I suggested we move the coats to the appropriate bedroom closets and purchase a small coat rack for the front entry she was excited to design the space as a pantry. One call to a handyman and wooden shelves were installed in the back with narrow shelves on the side for cans and condiments. She was thrilled with the transformation and only wished she had done it in time for her family to enjoy it more. Although, it did help the house sell!
A common theme with clients moving and having their houses staged is why did I not do these things sooner? I love the way my house feels and functions so much more now. Years ago I attended a seminar and one class completely stuck in my mind. The class was called “the eyes of a stranger”. The concept is a fairly simple one. Walk in your front door as if you are a stranger seeing everything for the first time. You would be amazed how you notice things differently.
During this crazy time with all of us spending more time at home try to look at your house through the eyes of a stranger. Sometimes the smallest changes can yield the biggest results and really change the way you feel about your home.
Hopefully everyone is staying home and doing their part to stay safe and healthy! As a professional organizer who likes to be prepared, these crazy times can definitely make me a little anxious. However, I find that the more prepared and organized I am the better I feel. I’m sure most of you have figured out your tips and tricks on dealing with Covid-19 by now but I thought I would share a few things that have helped me.
-Organize supplies and essentials so that they are easily accessible when needed.
If you are lucky enough to have disinfecting wipes then you know making them last is important since they are not easy to find. I decided to cut mine into halves and quarters depending on use. After cutting them place into Ziplocs with size written in sharpie on bag. The quarters are a great size to wipe down your phone without wasting a whole sheet. The halves are great for disinfecting doorknobs and other smaller areas. My husband even suggested adding a teaspoon full of alcohol to the Ziploc to boost the disinfectant and keep wipes moist. You can even keep some in your car for wiping down your steering wheel or phone.
Gloves and masks:
Keeping gloves and masks near the front or back door (by your car keys or normal drop zone) will remind you to take them with you when you head out to the grocery store or other essential trips. If you are lucky enough to have multiple sets you can keep some in your car as well. Make sure you dispose of your gloves when leaving the store or first thing when you get home so as not to contaminate any other areas.
Take your debit card or main form of payment out of your main wallet before you head to the store and put in a side pocket of your purse or a Ziploc or pouch. This will keep you from fishing around to pay and contaminating all of your purse contents.
Use paper towels sparingly since they can be hard to find right now.
Buy Kleenex to blow your nose so you are conserving toilet paper.
Buy what you need but try not to hoard essential items ( especially toilet paper) so that others can buy what they need for themselves and their families.
If you are still going to the grocery store and not having groceries delivered then try to be really prepared before you go.
Make a very thorough list. Then rewrite your list in the order you would shop; produce area first, then rice and grains, meats, etc. This will keep you from backtracking, blocking aisles while you shop and asking for help from employees. Right now the best thing you can do is get in and get out quickly and keep contact with others to a minimum.
Hope these tips were helpful!
Stay safe and healthy,
I have to say organizing and design go hand in hand as far as I’m concerned. I love to help clients with refreshing and styling their spaces. Once a space has been de cluttered and organized, the design touches are the reward and the icing on the cake! ( and for those of you who know me well then you know that icing is one of my favorite things). Without these added touches the room doesn’t feel finished, or new or revitalized.
I guess you could say its one of my favorite parts of my job. I love taking a space and giving it a whole new look. A space that was once neglected and used as a storage area is transformed into one of the happiest spaces in the house. Taking a clients vision or “wish list” and giving a space a whole new purpose is so rewarding.
The question is do you have a room like that in your house??
Maybe now is the time to tackle it…
I recently finished the book “The Gratitude Diaries” by Janice Kaplan. I have to say that I would highly recommend this book! Janice not only talks about her personal experience with practicing gratitude but includes lots of other research. The book is filled with many stories of how gratitude can transform your life. She interviews a variety of people including professors, friends, psychologists, CEO’s , actresses, artists and many others and has so many inspirational stories. One of my favorite lines from the book is from psychologist, Dr. Robert Emmons who is one of the worlds leading experts on gratitude. He says “You don’t need good events in your life to feel gratitude. Instead grateful people reframe whatever happens to them. They don’t focus on what they’re lacking; they make sure they see the good in what they have.”
Lately, I have had quite a few situations with clients who like to go to Costco or Sam’s Club to buy in bulk and save money. There are also many clients who have embraced Amazon’s auto ship policy. But is this really saving you money??
As a professional organizer I have to say more times than not buying in bulk only creates a new set of issues.
The reasons I do not agree with bulk purchases:
-Some houses just do not have the storage space for bulk purchases. Especially cases of paper towels and toilet paper.
-If storage space is limited then these bulk items have to either be shoved into a space, left in garage or maybe even scattered in different places throughout the house.
-If items are scattered throughout the house then there is a good chance you will forget what you have and buy more.
-These bulk items also steal space from the items that you need on a regular basis. Making it much harder to find what you use daily.
-Haven’t we all gotten on a health kick with a certain new protein powder, vitamin, or snack that we really wanted to love? But with adults and especially kids we go through phases and may grow tired of a certain product. Then we are stuck with cases of something we no longer eat.
-Plain and simple, food has an expiration date. If you stock up on more than you can possibly eat before the item goes bad then the food is wasted.
-Once you tire of an item then it is much better to donate to a food pantry than to just let the item gather dust and expire.
-If you are about to run out of an item there are so many websites and stores at your disposal. With one click of a button or a 10 minute drive to the store you can replenish in no time.
I know there are situations where a bulk purchase makes a lot of sense. For example, you need to take snacks for your child’s classroom, you are hosting a party or maybe making holiday gift baskets for your neighbors and friends. This is the case where you may save some money. But again how much is that annual fee to keep your membership? And when you go to buy in bulk are you tempted to pick up other items that were not on your list?
Next time you are tempted to stock up on something ask yourself these questions. Do you really have a place to store these things? Do you really need such a large quantity? How much are your really saving? How much time will you spend trying to find a place to store the items?
I have been reading quite a bit about minimalism lately and what it truly means to embrace a minimalist lifestyle. Many people hear the word minimalism and say that it is not for them. Some of us think of a typical empty house with white walls and no stuff. But if I have learned anything lately from the various blog posts, podcasts and books I have read it is that minimalism is not easily defined. There is not a right or wrong way to be a minimalist. Minimalism can be defined by you and applied to YOUR lifestyle. Anyone who is trying to rid their house of excess stuff and is willing to simplify is taking steps towards becoming more minimalist.
I just finished the book “The More of Less” by Joshua Becker. (Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own). It was a great book and had some good insight into the benefits of owning less. I would highly recommend it.
There are many resources available on the subject of minimalism, simplifying your life and intentional living. All you have to do is have an open mind and be willing to make even one small change. You just might surprise yourself.
Some of my favorite resources:
“Everything that Remains” by the Minimalists
“You Can Buy Happiness and its Cheap” by Tammy Strobel
Slow Your Home by Brooke McAlary
(her new book just came out “Destination Simple”)
Related to simplifying your wardrobe:
Courtney Carver and her blog Be More With Less
(Project 333 and The Tiny Wardrobe Tour)
You can also check out Pinterest and search my boards for Capsule and Minimalist wardrobes for some inspiration!
As many of you know, I have just moved into a new house. Even though it was a local move it is still so much work! I would much rather help a client that do that again myself anytime soon. I did find that during the first few weeks of moving in when there is so much to do I had a hard time sitting still or going to bed at a reasonable hour.
Have you ever been too exhausted too sleep? Your body is so tired but your mind is full of all the things you need to do. This is where I decided to try a podcast. Yes I am a little late to the game on that one! I kept wanting to try one but never had until now. Oh my goodness…let me just say its a great way to wind down and get stuff done at the same time. If that even makes sense?? First I used the podcast as my reward for a long day of unpacking. I would listen to it in bed to help me relax. Then one day I thought why I am not listening to this while I am doing stuff?? I ended up binging on like 10 episodes of Young House Love has a podcast.
If you are not familiar with Young House Love they are a cute DIY husband and wife team that have written 2 books, have had product lines on shades of light and target and have written a blog for years. Yes there are a lot of DIY ers out there but these 2 are so easy to relate to and very funny. They talk about their house projects, design, products they love, family, their dog and more…
I must say I was sad once I had listened to most of the podcasts. I tried a few other podcasts and was instantly turned off by all the advertising. I think I got spoiled with Young House Love. Finally I have discovered 3 others that I do enjoy.
How I Built This which is an NPR podcast that interviews entrepreneurs and business owners about how they got started. I listened to the one about Kendra Scott, the jewelry designer, actually on the recommendation of Sherry at Young House Love. It was a good one. I love Kendra Scott’s designs and it was so interesting to hear her story.
The other podcast I am enjoying is Slow Your Home. It is a lovely Australian couple who talk about slow living and living intentionally. I don’t know if its her accent or the content of the show but she is very calming to listen to. The podcast is a more thoughtful one to reflect on life and being less busy and more present.
The last podcast is The Minimalists. It is 2 best friends who have embraced a life of minimalism after being in the corporate world. They have written numerous books. I have read their book Everything that Remains and really enjoyed it. They are also on tour now speaking to groups everywhere about why they chose to live with less. They are funny and witty and really make you think.
Anyway, the whole point of my rambling is if you have not embraced the world of podcasts give them a try. You can listen while you do laundry, cook, organize and clean. And you can even throw on some headphones and listen when you get in bed. For those of you that are always busy its a relaxing way to wind down guilt free!! ( and you might even learn something in the process).
Organizing can sometimes seem daunting especially if you have limited time. However, an area that can have a huge impact are bathrooms. Products can pile up quickly and pretty soon cabinets and drawers are overflowing. Counter tops end up covered with things that just landed there.
After years of helping clients I have noticed almost everyone buys products that they don’t always end up liking. Because they spent money on that magic hair serum or beauty product they feel guilty getting rid of them. But why should you keep things if they don’t work for you??
Take time to remove the products from your bathroom that you will never use. If they are practically new then you could give them away to a friend, family member or a charity that can give them to someone in need. If they are old or expired then toss and don’t look back!
Remove travel size items and store them in a bin out of the way as well. Next time you pack for a trip you can go to the bin to replenish your toiletry bag.
If you buy extras of your favorite products then designate a place for “extras”. Either a linen closet or put away in a cabinet so they are not in the way of your daily routine.
Keep only what you use daily out on the counter in a small basket or a nearby drawer or shelf. This will keep your morning routine simple and quick and make cleaning your counter a breeze!