3 Simple Ways to Make Your House Guest Friendly

With Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner now is a great time to scrutinize your home with the eyes of a guest. I have listed three rooms that are focal points while entertaining and can play a large role in hospitality:

1) The entry– Make sure it is clear and easy for people to move through. You do not want your guests to feel as though clutter is leaning in over them as they enter your house. Create a home for all your jackets and shoes, and set up an area where you can quickly hang visitors’ jackets. read more

Less is more

Because I am an organizer many people think I hate stuff, that I despise things and belongings.  When working with a client one-on-one I am able to dismiss this assumption pretty fast.  I don’t hate stuff and I do not disregard other people’s precious items.  What I try to help people see is that relationships and quality of life are so much more important than anything we own.  Organizing is often not about the physical stuff so much as it is about our perception of those things.

If disorganization, clutter or a lack of systems negatively affects you and those around you, you are being held captive by what you own and allowing it to control you.  This will cause stress in your life and ultimately your relationships.  Sometimes people have simply acquired more than their space can comfortably contain, but the belongings are relatively current.  Other times clients are drowning in an avalanche of memorabilia or things associated with memories.  This habit will hold you in the past, keep your present from being enjoyable and even your future from moving forward. read more

Does your space need a tune-up?

I suppose even a professional organizer can become stuck in a rut. A couple months ago I tried to stuff some unruly plastic bags back inside themselves under a deep kitchen cabinet. Suddenly, I asked myself why on earth I had not purchased a plastic bag sleeve? Then I asked myself why this imaginary bag sleeve was not hanging on the inside of my kitchen cabinet?

This solution, while so simple and intuitive, seems to have evaded me for the first year I have lived in my apartment. The irony is that in a client’s house I would have seen the same issue a while ago and made the proper storage suggestion. Why did it take so long? Even organizers can get stuck in a rut. We all do it. We are used to using our space a particular way. We are accustomed to viewing it a certain way. This means that every space, even one belonging to an organizer, needs a tune-up every once in a while. read more

Create more space in your kitchen

-Designate an area in your house to act as secondary storage for your kitchen. A shelving unit at the bottom of the basement stairs, a shelving unit in the garage, shelves in your pantry or even an extra closet are great options.

-Determine what items you rarely use but still need for certain occasions. Bread machines, lobster pots, large roasting pans, Christmas molds and special serving dishes and utensils are only a few of the candidates for the secondary storage area. Anything you use about once a month or even every couple of weeks could go in this area. read more

Moving to multiple destinations

Working with individuals who are downsizing for a move means I run into more and more people moving items to multiple destinations.  Recently I spoke to someone who needed to transport items to new homes in both Boston and California as well as a local storage unit.  The packing company had to know exactly what to pack and ship to each destination and we needed an easy system for accomplishing this goal.

We decided to use different colored masking tape and assign each location a color.  Every item in the house would get a strip of tape based upon where it needed to go.  Then the packers would know exactly which items to pack up for each house or the storage unit.  Brilliant. read more

Shopping from your cabinets

When my pantry gets a little too full I look at what I have and make a meal plan based upon the contents before buying more food. Often times I get almost a week’s worth of dinners from the food. This prevents my pantry and refrigerator from becoming too full. When either space gets packed it is hard to see what is on hand and duplicates are bought by mistake. I like to “shop and cook” from my cabinets and fridge about once per month instead of buying ingredients according to a menu I have already created. read more

Don’t bring it home

When we are away from home and the clutter it is easy to buy something and think it will fit right in at the house.  But our homes are so often filled with these types of items, the impulse purchases we make because we couldn’t resist acquiring them.  A huge part of clutter management involves being brutally stringent about what comes through the door.

When you are out and about and something catches your eye ask yourself these questions before you walk away with a new trinket…

  • “Do I truly need this?  Can I live without it?  Is this thing necessary for me to live my life?”
  • “Do I have a place for this item to reside?”

You must be honest from the beginning.  If you answered “no” to any of the questions above the item should not find a home with you!  If you absolutely need to bring something back and space is limited decide before you leave the store what item at home can go to make room for the new purchase. read more

Procrastination and how to beat it

So what exactly is procrastination and how does it affect us? Procrastination is the postponement of action. As a result we get caught taking action at the last possible moment. This practice leads to tyranny of the urgent instead of what is of long term benefit or importance. Tasks that should have been fulfilled at an earlier time are addressed at that very moment, pushing other tasks out of the way.

Procrastination can make you scurry around at the last minute. This frenzy takes time away from other important tasks, activities or even your time to relax. You always lose your buffer when you push things off and a time buffer can be a great way to plan for the unexpected. read more

Helping kids clean their rooms

One of a parent’s big challenges is helping a child into the consistent habit of cleaning up his/her room.  This can be especially daunting when the child is young and easily distractible.  Many parents will tell a child to clean a room, only to come up 30 minutes later and find that not only is the room no better than before, but the child is playing with all the toys.  Giving your child a step by step process for cleaning a room when they are young is key to helping them maintain the habit as they get older. read more

Jump start your tax preparation

At this time of year when taxes are due it always makes sense to review what changes we can implement to make the process easier for the upcoming year.  With the 2011 tax season drawing to a close you may want to review your paper system for 2012.  Were there documents you searched for?  Did you spend extra time compiling numbers you needed?  Here are a few tips to help you:

-Whether you use a hanging file with interior folders, a divided tote or a binder with pockets, you should have one place where all your tax related paperwork goes throughout the year.  Keep the paperwork somewhat accessible so you can add documents as they arrive.  Leaving tax-related paper out to be filed at a later time can result in the documents never making it to the storage area. read more