Saturday, February 16, 2019

Five Fantastic Reasons to Clear the Clutter!!

You've probably seen some of these facts and reasons before, but it never hurts to see them again! This info was gathered from an article in Getting Organized Magazine way back in 2014 but still applies today.

  You can sell your house for more money
According to a survey in 2012, real estate agents ranked cleaning and de-cluttering your home as the top low-cost, do-it-yourself improvement project for a home seller.

You can decrease stress
A Huffington Post survey found that 84% of recently stressed out Americans said they worried that their homes weren't clean or organized enough. A survey by Rubbermaid found that 42% of homeowners experienced more anxiety when their houses were unorganized or cluttered.
 You can clear your mind 
According to, "The chaos restricts your ability to focus. The clutter also limits your brain's ability to process information.

You can turn the clock back
The average American spends one year of his or her life looking for lost or misplaced items, according to NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals)


You can breathe easier
Junk tends to gather dust, and dust isn't healthy, especially if you have asthma or other breathing problems. Regular house dust can contain any of the following; arsenic, decomposing insects, pollen, human skin, fecal matter from dust mites and even the insecticide DDT.

Next post: Five more reasons to clear the clutter!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Why Do People Hoard?

I've had the opportunity to work with several clients who exhibited hoarding behavior. When I first met these clients, I was aware that they had great shame and were fearful that I was going to judge them. However, knowing what I know about hoarding behavior, I was able to put them at ease and assure them that I was not judging them and that I was there to help them in any way I could. 

One of the questions I get the most from people is if I've ever worked with someone that hoards and then there is the usual, "How can they live like that?"

There are many reasons why some people can't let go of their items, and why they become trapped in this type of environment. Here are 5 reasons that I've discovered from working with clients that have hoarding behavior.

 The photos below are posted with permission from an actual client.

Memories - Many people that hoard feel that they have to keep an item in order to keep the memory of either the person, or an event. They think that if the item is not there, the memory will be gone as well.

Loneliness - Some people use their things to surround themselves because they are very lonely. If you've ever been in an empty room versus a room that has a lot of stuff in it, you can understand how they might feel. However, because hoarding tends to isolate a person even more because they are embarrassed to have anyone over, this is a cycle that just keeps repeating itself.

History of Poverty - We tend to think of elderly people, those that lived through the Great Depression, as the most likely to be hoarders. However, that is not necessarily true. If someone grew up without having a lot of personal possessions, or was not sure where their next meal was coming from, we often see that as a reason for hoarding behavior as they become adults.

Grief/Loss - In my experience, most of my clients that have had hoarding behavior show up in their life is because of grief or a loss of some kind. It doesn't necessarily have to be a death of a loved one, it could be the loss of a pet, loss of a home, loss of a job, etc. The grief process sometimes gets stuck for them and they begin to feel the need to hold onto things that remind them of the person, pet, home, job or whatever they lost. People will oftentimes try to fill a void that they feel in their life by getting more stuff.

Abuse/Neglect - Often, if people have been abused and or neglected some time in their life, they will want to "save" things in order for them to not be tossed aside or sent away as they may have been. They will usually want to save things that they think they will be able to use "some day".

In an ideal world, the client should be seeing a therapist that can help them process their emotions as we are going through the clean up process. Professional Organizers are not mental health professionals, but if we are aware of some of the reasons for the clients hoarding behavior, we can encourage them to seek help while we work together.

Everyone is an individual, and the process of clearing their home may not work the same for all of them. That is why it is important to have a broad assortment of "tools" in your toolbox to work with all different types of people. I listen to my clients and we will move at whatever pace suits them and gives us all the best chance for success.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Does clutter have a sound?

        Have you ever thought about what clutter might sound like? I imagine it to be a loud hum, kind of like a machine that won’t turn off. Always there, in the background, irritating you to the point where you just want to scream. Or run out of the house. You can think of clutter as visual noise; as distracting as having a vacuum cleaner running for hours on end. You can’t think when you hear that noise, just as you can’t think when you’re looking at all of that visual noise; clutter. It’s exhausting listening to noise all the time. As humans, we crave silence, if for no other reason than to give ourselves time to think and enjoy the peace. I’ve had clients tell me that after we’ve cleared a space, they just feel so much more at peace, calm, relaxed. It’s as if the noise was turned off in that space.

Monday, July 18, 2016

It's Called "Nesting" for a Reason

When I was asked to write an article about "How to Get Organized Before Baby Comes", little did I know that my husband and I were about to become grandparents again by our son and DIL. We are excited to welcome Audrey Isabel Huseman into our lives sometime in Oct/Nov of this year! 

I thought that this post might help my daughter in law to start thinking of some things she may not have thought about, and hopefully either you, or someone you know can benefit from these little tidbits I've culled from fellow organizers, websites I've researched, and my own advice.

1. First things first - Make an appointment with your Newborn Photographer of choice. This specialty area books up quickly and you don't want to miss this small window of opportunity. My favorite photographer is Shawna Clark. She's in Fairfield and does amazing work. Also, this is a good time to think about how you're going to announce the birth of your little bundle of joy. Even in this day of everything electronic, it's nice to mail something to someone via the good old Postal Service. At you can create your own stylish birth announcement and either send them via email, or you can have them printed and sent to you so you can send some out to family or friends that want to have one to put on the refrigerator for awhile. There's also this site, Tiny Prints as another option. You can pre-address the envelopes and then finish off the announcements when you get all the final details; date of birth, weight, length, etc.

2. Now for the nitty gritty of getting organized before baby comes. One of the things I wished I had done was to prep meals before hand. With my first, I had no idea how exhausted I would be, and most of all, I didn't realize I would not have time to shop, prep and cook meals for my husband and I after the onslaught of casseroles and chili was gone from well meaning family and friends. So if you're worried about that step, do some extra meals to freeze as you're prepping for your meals right now. Also automate your grocery list as best you can. If you're tech savvy, there's lots of apps to use for grocery lists that you can share with others. Grocery iQ is one that is free and can be shared by others. If you're not tech savvy, just make sure you have a magnetic note pad on the frig that you can write your list on, then someone can just take it to the store. My friend and fellow organizer Maureen, also said to keep local restaurant delivery menus nearby as well.

4.  Another of my organizing friends, Margaret, said her best advice to new mother's is this: Don't get too much. Having a bunch of onesies doesn't mean you'll never have to do laundry. It just means that you have a lot more onesies to store. You will most likely be doing laundry at least once a week, so don't worry about having a month's worth of onesies. Besides, we all know baby will grow out of most of them pretty quickly.

Speaking of growing, here's a good tip. Have a box either in the baby's closet, or somewhere convenient so as baby grows out of outfits and you've washed them, you have a convenient place to store them until it's time to put away for a sibling or to a friend or charity. Label the box by size and season; 3-6 months, Summer, 9-12 months, Winter.

5. Keep supplies where you are most likely going to need them. Do you have a two story home? You'll want to have a supply of diaper changing materials upstairs and downstairs. Are you going to be breastfeeding? Then you want to make sure you have breast pads, burp cloths etc., near a comfy chair with gentle lighting for those 2 a.m. feedings. You don't want to have too harsh of lighting as it may wake baby and you up too much and make it hard to get back to sleep! Keep your diaper bag stocked and ready to go at a moments notice. This will make getting out of the house (when you can), much less time consuming.

Here's a link My SweetNest to a super cute blog that talks about nesting and getting organized. She has really good ideas on getting that baby closet and changing table organized.

6. Another helpful tip would be to help others to help you! What????? If it's hard for you to ask for help, or you don't know what to say when someone asks what you need help with, (and you will need help), plan ahead and make a list of things you might need help with or chores you can delegate to others. My friend Connie said, "Believe that people want to be helpful - they really do!" I think that is true as well. Even if it's just a small thing, watching the baby while they nap so you can take a shower, shave your legs, or take a short walk to get some fresh air. When you're in the thick of things with a newborn at home, those small things really become big things and you'll be grateful for any stolen moments you can find.

7. Connie also suggested that you give your baby the tools they need to sleep away from home. I found this to be true for me as well when my children were little. If your child is used to going to sleep to a sound machine, or a certain blanket/stuffed animal, have those items with you when you are away from home visiting friends or family. It will make it much easier on you and them.

8.  Think ahead of how you're going to maintain your current household systems; bill paying, laundry, shopping. You can pay bills in small increments of time (unless you have everything set up for auto pay, which I strongly suggest), keep a running shopping list on the frig of what you are running low on. Someone can just grab the list and do some shopping for you. Also check out Amazon's Pantry grocery delivery system. You can order and have things delivered directly to your door. This will save you many hours that you can spend with baby.

9. Be thoughtful in the things you ask for from friends and family for gifts. It's very enticing to have all of the latest, greatest gadgets and gizmos, but in the end, really think whether those gadgets will help or hinder you. Do you have room to store all of that? Do you REALLY need a wipe warmer? If you're limited on storage space, I beg you to not get anymore than you really have room for.

10. And last, but certainly not least, this time in your life is an absolutely great time to make sure that you have all of your "affairs" in order. This means a living trust, custody arrangements for your child(ren) should anything happen to you and/or your spouse. Make sure your Advanced Care Directive is filed with your personal physician, and that other family members know where your important documents are located. Not a very warm and fuzzy tip, but a step every new parent should think of. Bad things happen to good people, and I'm sure you don't want to burden your family with having to make these decisions for you.

Enjoy that new bundle of joy! If you do everything you can to be organized before baby comes, you can spend more time, talking, singing, and reading to them than worrying about whether you need to buy more diapers.  Remember, 80% of your child's brain growth happens by age 3! First 5 California

Do you have a special tip that you used when you were getting ready for your baby? I'd love to hear it! Leave a comment below please!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Here's Another 10 Things to Toss Today!!

If you missed my last post, I gave you a list of 10 things you could toss today to help you begin your journey to a less cluttered life. As promised, here's another 10 items you can look for in your home to toss or donate to continue on your journey.

Today's list is more focused on paper items. We all still have too much paper coming at us even in this "paper-less" society. If you can get rid of some of it a little at a time, you'll be less "paper-full" than you were before.

1.  Tourist Brochures - This includes that map you picked up in Disneyland, (you know how it's been folded and unfolded so many times it's lost its print in places!), the brochure your sibling gave you about the fabulous cruise they took that they didn't ask you to go on and any other brochure of someplace that you're dreaming of going. GOOGLE those places and get the information delivered to your inbox. If you think you might forget about that wonderful little villa in Italy, make a folder on your computer labeled "Places we want to go" and file all information electronically.

2.  Difficult, time consuming or expensive recipes - Unless you're an expert chef and you really, really enjoy cooking your family dinner from scratch every single night, chances are you're not ever going to make Beef Bourginon and by letting that recipe go, you're releasing that expectation. Remember, you can always google recipes, check on FB for some of those TASTY! videos we all drool over.


3.  Invitations from past events - The wedding's over (you attended and had a blast), the baby's been born (super cute and cuddly), and it's now summertime so you can let the Memorial Day picnic invite be recycled. This is such an easy fix, and you can now make room on your frig for the 4th of July BBQ invite your neighbor sent.

4.  Expired coupons - Pizza coupons, drugstore discounts, grocery store clipped coupons, all of them. Check their expiration dates and if they're old, let them go. Oh except for the Bed, Bath & Beyond 20% off coupons. Those suckers never really expire and you can sometimes double them up!!

5.  Store receipts - Unless you need a receipt for a return, tax purposes or for a business deduction or if it's a big ticket item you want to recall, it's okay to throw them away. Check your credit card statement or keep it until you reconcile your bank statement, then let it go. It's just that easy!

6.  Expired warranties and contracts - We've all found them. The warranty for our digital camera, now long gone. The contract for the pest control professional that we don't use anymore, etc. Why are you keeping these? Recycle them and move on........

7.  Business cards that don't matter anymore - Are you really ever going to call that plumber you met at Home Depot in the bath fixture department? Probably not. Cull through all your business cards and either toss the ones that don't matter anymore or add the ones you do care about to your contact list on your phone. Here's the app I use to track my business cards that I want to retain. ABBYY Business Card Reader

8.  Unsolicited charity solicitations - If you already give to selected charities, then you're well aware that some charities sell their mailing lists to the highest bidder and unbeknownst to you, you are about to start receiving a lot of unsolicited charity solicitations. Now, some people I know try to be proactive by tearing off the return to them section and sending it back in their pre-paid envelope stating to please remove me from your mailing list. That might work, sometimes. You can also simply shred the envelope without opening it. You can also try to be removed from mailing lists by utilizing this option that I posted about awhile ago. 

9.  Bad photos - This is something I will be addressing in a future post as Photo Organizing is going to be a service I will be adding in the near future....stay tuned!  If you're into photos, either prints or digital, this is an area that is groan worthy for many of my clients. Fear not!!!!  It can be conquered with a little persistence and patience.

And now for the only non paper related list item:

10.  Cans of dried up paint - If you've ever painted or have had someone else paint any walls in your home, apartment, whatever, you've got at least one can of paint in your garage or storage area. I'm not saying that you have to get rid of the extra paint that you just used in your guest bath remodel, I'm talking about 10+ year old paint that's NEVER going to be used again. If it's truly old and dried up, you can dispose of it in your normal trash receptacle. If it's in any sort of liquid form, you need to dispose of it responsibly. Most counties or waste management company have information available for paint disposal in your area. Here's some info on disposing of old paint.    Old Paint Disposal

I'd love to hear from you about something you decided to let go of and how it felt to do so. You can comment below. Plus, I'd like to know if anyone's reading this thing!! Give me some love!!