Color Code Your Trash Bags!
Why in the world would you color code your trash bags? Look how easy it is to distinguish which bag is trash to be thrown away and which bags are clothing that need to be donated? If you have gone through a room before, completely reorganizing, then you know you are going to have a lot of trash and hopefully a lot to donate too. This system takes the guess work out of which bag is which, once you are finished.
When you are de-cluttering it is easy to mix up things. Here is a solution that can help with that.
I suggest getting a box of black trash bags, and a box of white trash bags. You can also use clear trash bags for recycle.
Trash Bags – Color Code Them
Black is for trash that goes right to the trash can outside.
White is for donate.
Clear for recycle
It is to keep from getting bags mixed up in the clean up and clear out process. As you are loading things into the bags it is easy to think that you will remember what is where….but after you have loaded up several and you happen to take a break and come back to it, its easy to get confused.
You don’t want to accidentally throw away something that was meant to be donated and someone else could use.
I suggest the white for donate and not clear , the reason being - you don’t get that bag out of the house the same day, it may give you time to reconsider what is in it and you may find yourself pulling things out to keep. Then you are defeating the purpose and you may not get rid of all the clutter you need to.
The clear for recycle because you can then see easily what is paper, what is bottles etc. when you go to take it to the recycle location. (Or hopefully if you are lucky enough…just out to your curb…we aren’t so lucky in our town to have curb side recycle yet. Pain huh?) Update on that – we now have curb side recycling at our house. Our town has come out of the dark ages!
This simple solution for loading up different colored bags can make things much easier on the “getting out of the house” end of the process.
Clutter Messes with Your Time Management
Does Clutter Make me Late? You would be surprised at home you manage your time can be influenced by clutter around your house.
Clutter can make you late!
“What, do you mean by that?” you may say. But clutter and time management can go hand in hand as a problem.
“Where are my keys? I know I just laid them here, maybe they are under this stack of mail.” “I just need to grab that report for the meeting, but where is it?” “Mom, where did my red jacket go? I’m going to be late for school!”
Do any of these sound like your house?
When you have extra clutter sitting around choking up the “clean, clear, calm” space, then you also have clutter sitting in your head…choking up the “clean, clear and calm” space in your brain. When you do not have a clear brain to think with, you are going to have too many thoughts…too many things jumbled in your head and lose track not only of what needs to be done, but in what time frame it needs to be done in. Simply put, Too much stuff in your house + Too much stuff in your head = Being Late.
Being late out the door, being late to pick up the kids, being late with reports due, being late paying bills, being late to the meeting – sound familiar?
So what do you do? Clearing out the clutter from your home will result in clearing out the clutter from your head which will in turn help you to focus and plan your day more productively which will then lead to being on time.
Sounds simple doesn’t it….NOT!
How Do I Clear out the Clutter?
Use your 5 signs to designate your piles to sort.
Get white trash bags for your donate and black for trash (so you don’t mix them out when you take them out of your house.
I prefer clear plastic storage bins for long term storage.
Make sure you have some form of labels to label your bins.
Give yourself 2 hours of time if you are able. Do not think you will get an entire room done, just start out with a smaller goal.
Pick up each item, look at it fast and think:
1) Do I use this?
2) Do I need this?
3) Do I like this?
4) What is the worse thing that can happen if I don’t have this?
Don’t spend more than about 5-10 sec. on each item, otherwise memories start popping in and you “personalize” that item. You want to keep it “depersonalized”, otherwise it can be too hard to get rid of.
Break down your day into 15 minute increments.
For instance: If you have to be at the school by 3:00 to pick up the kids, but you need to go to the bank and grocery store first then plan it this way:
3:00 – Be at School
2:45 – Leave for school. (It takes 10 min. to get there from school – but use 15)
1:45 – Be at grocery to do the shopping.
1:30 – Leave from bank to go to grocery. (It only takes 8 min. to get there, use 15)
1:15 – Leave for bank. (It only takes 10 min. but use 15)
So to get to the school by 3:00, you need to leave the house by 1:15. You will have an extra 17 minutes to play with if there is traffic, or if the grocery store is crowded. If you end up being early, just keep a book you are reading or a steno pad in your car to make a “to do” list.
Now make sure that 15 minutes before you get ready to leave the house you get your keys, grocery list, banking items ready and have stopped by the bathroom.
So if you need to, set your timer on your stove for 1:00. Once you get in the habit of using 15 minute increments to plan things out, it will become easy and natural and you won’t have to worry about being late.
Because your clutter is now cleaned up off that kitchen counter, you can find those keys and bank book and grocery list and you can get out the door on time!
Time management is much easily accomplished when you do not have clutter blocking your path!
Decluttering – How To Decide What To get Rid Of?
Decluttering and trying to decide what to get rid of is a very hard thing to do.
That is why it is very helpful to use an outside person, a friend or a Professional Organizer to help you. We don’t have the attachments to the objects that you do. It is easier for us to help you make the decision based on need and not on emotions. Often someone other than family/friend is able to say things that you might need to hear, but won’t accept from someone close, it can make the decluttering process easier.
Questions to Ask Yourself:
*Does it take more time and effort to manage than it is worth?
*Does it make others unhappy to see it? Am I putting things before people and relationships?
*Do you need it? Is it redundant (i.e., do I really need 3 measuring spoon sets)?
*Do I love it? Does it make me happy or unhappy to see it?
*If you were moving, would you pay to have it packed and moved?
*Would you buy it again?
*Is it broken, and if so, are you ever going to fix it?
*Are you ever really going to finish this project (book, quilt, etc.)?
*Can you borrow or purchase another one, if needed, without spending a fortune or having trouble finding it?
*When’s the last time you used it (assuming you knew it was there)?
*If you knew that someone else would really benefit from having this (i.e. if you found a great place to donate it), would that make it easier for you to let it go?
*Is this adding value to your home or business?
*Is this item getting in the way of your ability to find what you need, when you need it?
*Will this help me make or save money?
*How much space does it require (the more it takes, the more critical you should be in your decision to keep it)
*If you keep it, will you remember you have it? If you remember you have it, will you be able to find it?
*Convince yourself that you need to keep it.
*Am I legally required to keep it (i.e. vital & tax records), and if so, for how long? (a topic for another whole newsletter)
*Will I actually use it/refer to it/need it?
*Is the information still current?
*Can it easily be duplicated or created if needed again (i.e. found on the web)?
*What’s the worst that can happen if you toss it?
*Is it a duplicate?
*Is the item in good condition?…does it have stains or tears or is it too worn)?
*Is the item still in style (And no…..1980′s shoulder pads are not going to come back into style in the same exact way)?
*Do you love the item, or even like it? Does it make you feel great to wear it?
*When was the last time I used this item….Would I use it again now that I remember that I have it?
*How many do I currently own of this type of item (maybe 20 pairs of black pants are too many)?
*Does it fit? If not, is it within a reasonable number of size ranges of my current size range to keep it?
*Do you have anything else that reminds you of this (event, person, time)?
*If we took a picture of it, would that make it easier for you to let it go?
*Am I keeping it because someone gave it to me and I’ll feel guilty if I get rid of it?
*Does the sentimental value exceed the practical value (if so, by all means, keep it!)
Using these guidelines can make it much easier to help you decide if you are going to part with something.
This post was originally posted in 2008. The list was one that was compiled by Professional Organizers.
Spring is (almost) here. Let’s clear out winter clothes & gear!
Winter clothes, coats, hats, gloves, boots, shovels, sleds are just part of what can be either decluttered from your home or stored away until next winter.
When you go through your winter gloves make sure if you are going to keep them that:
1) They all have a match
2) They still fit your children and there are no holes in them.
If they are in good shape but are too small for your children, then put them in the donate bag. If you only have one, then don’t keep it, and certainly don’t throw it in the donate bag (someone one other end of sorting will just be the one to have to get rid of it)
For your hats and coats and boots – Go through the same thing. For those items that will still fit next year and are in good shape, store them in a clear bin and label it.
For your snow shovel and sleds and skies. Ski racks on your garage wall would be ideal. The same for the snow shovel if you have the space. Look UP in your garage. Use your wall space. If you have rafters in your garage… use those for storage!
8 Easy Steps to Transferring The Clothes
1) Get your supplies ready. White (donate) and black (trash) trash bags, sharpie
marker, labels -sticky address labels work great, bins (clear are best).
2) Go through the drawers & closets. Pull out each piece of clothing and evaluate it quickly.
* Will it fit someone in the family in the future? (If not dontate)
* Is it in any condition to save? (If not then throw away, don’t donate clothes
that are torn, stained or are better for rags)
* Will the next child wear it? Was it worn at all this season? (Do they like it?)
3) Make piles
* Save for next year
* Donate (white bag)
* Trash (black bag)
4) Get out the summer clothes from storage.
5) Go through the new season clothes and do the same thing as you put them away in
the kids drawers. Make sure they will fit your child this year and it is
something they will wear.
6) I prefer using clear bins if possible. Get ones that fit your space to store and latch closed. They will go from season to season. Now for really long clothing storage, you might want to look into another form (but I don’t suggest long term clothing store of any one item …usually)
7) Take the bins you have for next year and be sure to label them. The labels don’t have to be fancy printed out labels! Just get something you can see clearly and you can peel off or stick over for next season.
Put either sex or child’s name, season and size on each label. For instance, Boy – Summer – Size 10
8) Your donate bags can be taken to friends who can use them, sold at a garage sale or resale
shop or taken to a facility such as Good Will, but get them out of your house as soon as possible.
We have so much cold winter gear, that just putting it away or giving it away makes you feel less cluttered doesn’t it?
I’d love to see how you clear out your winter clutter! Blog about them and then come back and
link it to my Organizing Mission Link party – Mission Spring Cleaning !!
I LOVE your comments!!
Usually the first step is to find the floor!
Usually teens (like most of us) have too much “stuff”. There is more stuff than places to put the stuff – so it is easier to just throw it on the floor. Keep in mind this isn’t always the case. My oldest son (at home) has plenty of storage space…but stuff is still on the floor – but he could still stand to declutter again.
Starting at the Beginning means starting with Sorting
Be armed with Black trash bags (trash) and white trash bags (donate).
Then remember your sorting basics. Don’t spend more time on each item than about 5-10 seconds. You don’t want to start reminiscing or you will never get the job done. If they still have all kinds of stuffed animals or toys from their childhood (and they are teens)..help them pick out a couple special ones to keep (if they want to keep any). Take pictures of others if they are having a hard time deciding or not sure about getting rid of things.
If there are clothes that you need to keep to pass down to other children in your family. I suggest clear bins (so you can see what is in them) and be sure to label them well.
Work with them and have them decide: Make paper sorting cards to help remember what to do with their things.
1) Keep – Do I LOVE it? Do I WEAR it? Do I USE it? Does it FIT?
2) Donate – I DON’T like it and will not wear it, It DOESN’T fit, I DON’T use it.
3) Move – It doesn’t BELONG in my Bedroom
4) Storage - This can be season sports supplies or things they need to keep but don’t use but once or twice a year.
5) Trash – It is trash, broken, torn or worn out
Let them just make piles (they love piles anyway right?) on the floor for the different categories. If there is not floor space to begin with. I suggest piling everything in one big pile and then going through it.
This is the statement I hear time and time again. I have to say that I am not immune to it either. There are always things that are special from our loved ones, that we do not want to part with. I am not saying you have to part with all of it either. But there needs to be a limit to what you keep.
The problem lies when people can’t get rid of any of it. If it isn’t something that you are able to have out and enjoy to remember those who gave it to us, owned it before us or made it…then why keep it?
I will tell you what my husband said to me just today as we were going through a box of his departed fathers belongings…(I posed the same question to him). He said,….”So that I can keep it packed in a box and every 10 years or so go through it and remember it.” But really…think about it. Is that really worth the space it may be taking up?
I suppose if you have the extra storage space for it…that would be fine, but many of us do not have the space.
It is the memories we want and cherish usually more than the actual item.
So what do you do?
1) Evaluate how important it REALLY is.
a) Do you love it? Or do you feel “obligated” to keep it?
b) Can you use it or display it?
c) Is it valuable?
d) Do you have room for it?
2) If you decide to keep it you need to decide:
a) How can I use it?
b) Do I have room to display it?
c) Do I have room to store it?
d) If I think its worth something, then how will I get that value out of it?
3) If you decide to store it you need to decide:
c) How will this benefit me in this box? (Limit yourself to 1 box per family member)
d) Does it bring a positive memory? Let go of things that bring a negative memory.
How can I keep the memories without keeping the item? Here are some ideas.
1) Take pictures of it. Works for artwork too, pose your child with their pictures & take a picture of them.
2) Take small items and use in a display or shadowbox or display cabinet.
3) Pictures can be made into jewelry. Here is an Etsy site that I think is great.
4) Make it into a quilt. (Watch for an upcoming review and giveaway of one of these!)
5) Make a memory notebook or album. You can use pictures or small items in it.
You do not have to have the item to have the memory.
Hoarding….What is it all About?
Did any of you watch the new show on A&E (Mondays at 10pm est). It is called appropriately enough…”Hoarders”.
It gives the real life picture of what a hoarding house looks like….the thought process that the hoarders go through and their reasoning in why they “need” to keep their “stuff” and how they get rid of it…or do not get rid of it. This is real life (from what I can tell) and shows the real emotions of these people. They get very anxious when people try to throw their things away if they have not made the decision themselves.
Hoarding. This is an Emotional Problem
This is an emotional problem. There needs to be a psych. Dr. involved and helping to treat the person for the changes to stay in effect.
The picture above is a garage. If you will notice that the boxes almost touch the garage door hardware on the ceiling….yes that is the ceiling! This is a woman I worked with last year. She is a hoarder…and knows it. She has books on organizing and is determined to get out of the mess she is in. She has a very limited budget ….a disabled husband, and no real help. She wants to move into a 600 sq ft house that her son (deceased) used to live in. Her house is a 4 bedroom home with basement and garage full. It would be cool for her to be on a show like that and get the physical help she needs.
But I love hearing what these people are saying….because I feel like I have heard most of it out of the mouth of my client. They have a reason for each thing they have and have a hard time giving it up.
Hoarding is a serious emotional issue…it is not just lazy people. Would love for you to see the Chaotic Kitten of Dehoarding Diary. She is a hoarder who is decluttering her house and blogging on it. She has before and after photos. Love her and so proud of her.
You also might be interested in these pasts posts of mine:
Office Before and After
The dreaded “before” pictures of an office.
Then looking the other direction in this room you finally see the desk.
This client is a home builder and his business took off so fast several years ago that when he took over a bedroom in their home, they did not have time to clean it out first. Things just kept accumulating. He brought in pieces from a home (2 pantries and kitchen counter unit) thinking it would help him…but there was no organization in their use.
The AFTER Pictures:
This is the same space as in the very top photo. We took out all the kitchen counters and pantries. He still was going to frame the photos of the houses he built, he just put them up for an idea.
They painted the room once we got it cleared out. Looks wonderful.
This client built the table that sides up to his desk. He needed something to lay out house plans and be able to bring clients up to the other side to go over them with him. He had to use his dining room table before because he wouldn’t take anyone up to his office.
He wanted something for his house plans. He wanted to be able to lay out the house plans and not have them rolled up for the ones he was working on presently. This was kind of an unconventional use of these cubby units, but the actual house plan units were very expensive. I gave him the options and he loves this plan.
We also used the closet for storage. He needed house plans archived. We came up with the inexpensive idea to stack these boxes on top of one another to make up an economical solution to that problem.
Would love to see your “before” and “after” pictures of your offices.
Having problems with it? I am doing my live show tonight on office organization.
Hoarding – Are You A Hoarder?
Hoarding is more than just a messy house. It is a real psychological problem. There are usually a few things that help define hoarding.
Have you seen the shows and wondered if it is a problem you have, or know of someone that is a hoarder?
1) Buying or picking up free items and refusal to part with them or even move them. Many times they are of useless or have limited value and usually aren’t being used for what they are intended.
2)The person’s home is so cluttered that you can use the spaces as they are intended.
3) significant limitations in functioning and distress over their situation they are in because of the hoarding.
I recently saw a show on TV called “How Clean is Your House”. They had a contest looking for the messiest house. Most of the pictures if not all of the pictures they showed for contestants were that of hoarders. Not one time during the show (unless I missed it) did they mention hoarding. The “winners” of the contest were a mother and her two daughters that had a terrible hoarding problem. The entire house was packed full of junk. The mother was the worse and they showed many times her refusal to part with something and her stress over the situation. I am hoping that they also got them all some counseling along with their new house make over so that they will not fall back into their same patterns,but they never mentioned anything like that. It was very disturbing to me that they never mentioned hoarding on the show at all or talked about these people needing some real treatment.
Treatment is key to making a change for these people. Counseling should be for sure and many times medication is also used in therapy. That along with help from a professional organizer can make dramatic changes in a hoarders life.
Hoarders want to change (most of the time)and many times try on their own and fail and then they fall into deeper depressions and give up even more and their situations can become life threatening.
When we work with clients who are hoarders we need to assess to what level their hoarding is. Is there a place to sit in their house? Are there pathways in the rooms to get to things? Are doorways blocked? Are there pets in the house and if there is, is there animal urine and feces? (Many times animals can’t get to a door to be let out)
Hoarding is a very big problem and should not be looked at as just a “messy house”.
If you think you are a hoarder you can go to this web site and look at the “clutter hoarding scale” and evaluate yourself. www.nsgcd.org (National Study Group for Chronic Disorganization)
Just as there is help for other problems, there is help for hoarders and they should be no means ever feel like their situation is hopeless.
Disclosure: I am not an expert on hoarding, nor do I claim to be. Please follow up with the NSGCD if you feel you have a problem or know someone who does.