Fall Back Into Action

I hate to be the one to say it but we’ve got only a few more months left in the year. Oh my!

Do you feel good about meeting your de-cluttering and organizing goals for 2017? If you have had the desire and the willingness to get organized, but lacked motivation or a plan, this month’s newsletter is for you! It is designed to help you get back on track, get back to basics, re-take some baby steps.

For good or ill we live in a culture that bombards us with stuff that we bring into our home, the one place where we want to feel calm. Instead, we feel chaotic.

Take a deep breath and let the de-cluttering begin (again!).

Fall Back Into Action:

1. Remind yourself why you want to be organized! Make a list of what it will feel, smell and look like when you’ve completed a de-cluttering project. Why have you chosen to start this process? Control your surroundings? Improve mental and emotional well-being? Write your goals again, reinforce your commitment.

2. Start small.  Take one step each day to reduce the clutter in your life. Using a basket or box, go through your home or office and pick up ten items that belong elsewhere.  Put them where they belong. Take your trash our regularly. Don’t let it pile.

3. Turn your To-Dos into a “To-Due” list and go for “To Done!” We all know that it’s easier to write a list than to complete it! Some tips: Wake up earlier, put the difficult tasks first, spread tasks throughout the day within a particular time-frame, batch tasks (5 phone calls, 4 emails, etc.), and fit your day together accordingly.

4. If you procrastinate, ask a friend to be your accountability partner.  Explain the tasks you need to accomplish and let your partner hold you to your finish date for each task. Set up “rules” about reminders and consequences.

5. Create storage to stay organized.  If you avoid putting away an item because you don’t know where to put it, think about other similar items you might have and store them all together. If you have too many clothes, keep your winter and summer clothes separate, alternate them in and out of your closet according to season.

6. Become a minimalist. If you don’t need something, why keep it? While it’s tempting to keep all of your child’s art projects, try utilizing the storage space in your computer rather than your house. Take a picture of objects you want as a keepsake but have no space for. Make sure every item in your home has a home, and put things back where they belong. Encourage your children, spouse, or roommate to do the same.

7. Clean as you go. When making dinner, it is easy to end up with a pile of dirty pans and dishes in the sink. To avoid this, wash the dishes as you wait for the food to cook.

8. Time management. Schedule time for interruptions. Sometimes, there really aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. Don’t instantly give people your attention unless it’s absolutely crucial to offer your immediate response. Instead, schedule a time to answer email and return phone calls rather than answer them throughout the day. The 3rd edition of my book, “Psychic Debris, Crowded Closets” has new chapters on managing your time with time: click here for more information.

9. Learn to say “No.” Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm “no” or defer it to a later period.

10. Eliminate timewasters. Whether social media, television, or surfing the Internet, if it is not related to the tasks you need to complete for the day, it can wait! Schedule “free” time so a timewaster is not a waste of time anymore.

Remember in September: Preparing for Disaster A Clear Path’s Top Ten Tips

September is Emergency Preparedness month. In an ideal world we’d like it very much if we didn’t have to think about what may befall us or our family. But we live in a world where disaster can strike at any moment. And while many of my clients want to hold on to their stuff “just in case” (when chances of the “just in case scenario” is not likely to occur) it’s a good idea to keep and store a few things just in case the earth shakes or a fire is burning out of control.

1. Tools: You may want to have some or all of these tools stored in a bin for easy access:

  • Fire extinguisher large 5-20 pound, type ABC
  • Crow bar, 1 ft min.
  • Leather gloves
  • Multi-function pocket tool or knife
  • Plastic tarp, 9×12 ft min
  • Nylon rope, 100 foot
  • Duct tape
  • A multi-purpose tool for shutting of gas and water main valves
  • Portable generator.   Make your selection based on what really needs to be powered and the run time of the model. Our recommendation is for a maximum size of 5 HP, 2250 Watt 120 vac only. To get a 230 vac generator will require an 8 HP motor, and your run time will drop in half. Typically, the only items in your house that will require 230 vac is an electric heating system, an electric water heater, or an electric range. What you really need to power is a refrigerator, a few lights, and a radio.
  • Power converter for running 120 volt items from car battery.

2. Light: I lived in the San Fernando Valley when the ’94 earthquake hit Los Angeles at approximately 4:00AM and very dark inside and out. Disaster or not, you want to always have access to light.

  • Flashlight with 2 sets of spare alkaline batteries and one spare bulb.  Newer LED flashlights are also available and run much longer on a set of batteries. Store the flashlight by turning one battery in the wrong direction to avoid the inevitable corrosion.
  • Lantern battery, kerosene or propane powered. Store fuel or batteries, but never use fuel-based lighting until you are sure gas leaks are eliminated.
  • Long life candles
  • Waterproof matches or lighter

3. Communication: Chances are pretty good that cell towers will become inoperable for a time. Get ready with other methods of communication.

  • AM/FM radio.  Store at least 3 sets of alkaline batteries for standard units. Inexpensive radios are available from your local Radio Shack.  The best radio is one that has rechargeable NI-cads built in, and may be charged with the built-in solar cell, or by cranking on a built in generator handle.
  • This solar/generator survival radio is available from Epicenter.  We recommend this radio for your supplies in your car as well.
  • Pen, pencil, and paper pad.  Store in zip lock bag.
  • Stamped postcards.  Store in zip lock bags.  Your house might be gone, but if you still have a mailbox, the mail will continue service.  An easy way to stay in touch with family far away.
  • List of important phone numbers, including your out of state focal
  • Weather radio or police scanner.  A bit expensive, but a weather radio is a must in tornado or hurricane country.

4. Your home. Find out where the utility shutoffs are for water, power, and gas. Place a flashlight or an emergency light next to your breaker panel. Place a wrench in your water meter box located near the street and attach a tool on your gas meter for turning off the gas. Evaluate each room in your house. Ask yourself: what will fall on my head, or will keep me from getting out if it fell?  Secure anything you find.  Hang heavy items such as pictures and mirrors away from beds, couches, and anywhere people sit. Store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass, and china in low, closed cabinets with latches. Also be sure to store household chemicals on a bottom shelf of a closed cabinet. Never store bleach and ammonia in the same cabinet.  These chemicals, when mixed, will create a deadly toxic gas. Change the batteries 2x/year in the carbon monoxide and fire alarms throughout your home.

5. Store at home:

  • Water: 30 gallons per person (2 gallons per person per day for 1 week).
  • Canned goods: ready to eat soups, meats, veggies and fruit. Make sure you know when they will expire.
  • Cooking: Barbecue, 40 pounds charcoal, and two cans of starter fluid.  Or a propane unit with two 20 pound containers of propane.  A propane camp stove may also be used.

Store the following items for use with above:

  • Pot and pan for cooking
  • Kitchen knife
  • Silverware.
  • Styrofoam cups
  • Water proof matches or lighter
  • Zip lock bags
  • Can Opener
  • Aluminum foil

6. Keep your car safe. Think of your car’s trunk as a big steel supply cabinet.  Keep your supplies in the trunk along with other items like tools, jumper cables and spare tire. Even if you are at home when a disaster strikes, and your home is well stocked, you may still need the supplies in your car. Your house may not be safe to enter, or may catch fire after a disaster like an earthquake.

Your car will be one of your most important resources after a disaster strikes.  Keep it mechanically sound, and pay close attention to the exhaust system.  A leaking exhaust system could kill. Replace your battery every 2-3 years.  In an emergency, your car battery will need to run the radio and heater for extended periods.

7. Prepare for disaster on the job: Read your company’s evacuation plan. Note the designated meeting locations for after an evacuation. Each time you enter a room, take note of the exit routes and locations of fire extinguisher and medical kits. Keep your own personal supplies in your desk in a single pack of some kind that you can access quickly.  Along with your supplies, store a pair of walking shoes.

Be sure you have composed a card to carry in your wallet or purse with important phone numbers including the number of your out of state phone contact. Keep the area under your desk free of waste-paper baskets and the like. This 6 square foot area might be home during a few traumatic moments.

If you are not at your desk when something happens, don’t count on being able to make it back.

8. Emergency supplies at work:

  • Emergency water rations
  • MRE’s (Meals ready to eat, or coast guard food rations)
  • Emergency space blanket
  • Flashlight with extra batteries of chemical light stick
  • First aid kit

9. Know and understand your neighborhood. Contact your school district to obtain policy regarding how children will be released from school. Know the location of the nearest police and fire stations, as well as the route to the nearest hospital emergency room. Meet with neighbors and find out who has medical experience. If you are taking this preparedness thing seriously, share this information with the households next to you. The more people you can convince to prepare, the greater your group resources. Remember that you will be called upon by all around you for help, especially by those who didn’t take warnings seriously. Show neighbors where the utility shutoffs are and provide them with a list of contact phone numbers. Ask how to turn off your neighbor’s utilities.

10. Come up with a plan in case of an emergency. Your family may not be together when a disaster strikes so it is important to plan in advance: how you will get to a safe place; how you will contact one another; how you will get back together; and what you will do in different situations. Here is a great chart to help you and your family come up with a plan in case of an emergency.

 

Thanks to Ready.gov make-a-plan for great emergency response ideas.

Top 10 Tips: Back to School

1. Create a routine for the new school year. Decide upon a couple of routines sure to make each day run a lot smoother. For example, get ready for tomorrow before you go to bed tonight. Schedule 30-40 minutes at night to pack lunches and backpacks, lay out your clothes, decide upon accessories. Will you kids need anything extra for class or after-school activities? If you work and go to school – go over your calendar at the beginning of each week. Focus on what is coming up – meetings with your manager or your study group, a trip to the grocery store, dinner with your parents. Take it all in to mentally prepare your body, mind, and spirit.

2. Create a Homework Station. Homework requires few distractions. Designate a work area for you or your children. In that area (or near it, if using the kitchen table) use a bucket or basket for supplies: a few pens/pencils, electronic chargers, pencil sharpener, erasers, sharpies, paper, stapler, tape, white out, a ruler, etc.

3. Keep track of important paper. Generally there are two categories of paper that need to be saved: the papers that require our action or attention, those that should be saved for reference for future use. If stacking paper is your style, use a stacked tray and add labels. Choosing a filing system is hit or miss. Not everyone processes information the same way. Go online and search “filing systems.” Be realistic. No matter how cool it looks, if you don’t think you can maintain it, stay away from it. If you lead with the right side of your brain, you are likely to need an “out-of-the-box system.” But choose something because the paper will flow into your space for the rest of your life! Schoolwork and artwork with sentimental value can be stored in an under-the-bed bin. At the end of each school year keep 3 of the best and toss the rest. Or better: take photos to add to desktop wallpaper art!

4. Create a family calendar. Whether it’s just you and your loved, or a passel of people living under one roof, stay on the same page with a family calendar. There are probably as many file systems as calendars. Online or on the refrigerator. You know who you live with and what may or may not work. And, similar to file systems, experiment with a few calendar systems until you find the one that works best for all involved. The calendar can include appointments, chores, emergency numbers, etc.

5. Nighty-nite and Good Morning. Become acclimated to the new schedule before you have to start it. When you incorporate the task of getting ready the night before, plan the evening accordingly. Wake your kids earlier the week before school starts so the first day doesn’t come as a complete surprise! Plan a fun daylong activity with your family when everyone has to wake-up early as if it were a school day.

6. Save time: Keep your calendar handy as you write your grocery list. It’ll help you remember when you’re eating out or at home. Stick to your grocery list. We waste a lot of time and head-space thinking about our nightly grocery runs because we’ve run out of one thing or another. Eat leftovers for lunch. Schedule the time to do the laundry [5 steps: sort, wash, dry, fold put-away]. Don’t waste time looking for a lost sock. Stick it in a bag and move on.

7. Re-purpose plastic or cloth grocery bags: “Zone” weekly/daily activities into bags. Gym bags, soccer bags, bags for dance, baseball, swimming, etc. Add something unique to each bag to help quickly distinguish it from others. For all the activities through the week, keep the bags close to your exit door.

8. Create a space for keys, jackets, backpacks, shoes, purses, etc. to deposit the moment you walk in the door. To manage incoming mail and permission slips, make the most of wall space with a shoe bag-style organizer to contain a lot of different things. Label the pockets so everyone in the family can find what they need. This is the space where you leave your “don’t forget” list or anything you have to take with you when you leave for the day. Add low-hanging hooks for backpacks and small jackets.

9. Avoid Clutter. Keep separate folders and bags with labels to identify the contents. Toss or recycle clutter and paper as soon as it’s no longer viable. Use a box or bag near the front door for items to donate and fill it regularly. Remember that you don’t have to keep everything that comes into your space!

10. Organize savings. Sell back old textbooks, purchase online textbooks, re-use office supplies (how many pens and folders are enough?). Se-up a carpool to save gas. Pack your lunch. Don’t go “back-to-school” shopping without a list (and stick to the list!). Look for the biggest bang for your buck: The 99¢ Only Store carries notebooks, folders, erasers, and even simple calculators.

 

Freedom From Clutter! The Top Ten Tips

Assert your right to be free and independent of clutter! This month’s Top Ten are easy tips and ideas about how to start the de-clutter process and suggestions for planning and maintaining the process.

1. Plan the process and start now! Create a plan to de-clutter. Set dates and times of the day to get the job done. Trade de-cluttering tasks with your friends. Chances are they have clutter, too. Allow a year for completion of the plan. Create a vision of how your uncluttered spaces should look. Cut out pictures of cool looking clutter-free space from that magazine you’ll discard. Take stock of everything in your space and make decisions of what to let go based on what it would take to live in your ideally-cleared space. Separate what belongs in each room and put it there.

2. Figure out the paper clutter once and for all .Most homes have miles of files and piles of paper. It’s everywhere. Find a good system to deal with it and be done with it. Regularly recycle newspapers and magazines. Pay bills online.

3. Let go of that which is no longer needed. Children’s art projects, greeting cards with lovely sentiments, souvenirs from magical vacations… all are tempting to keep. Can the idea, or memory, of the art, card, or souvenir be treasured rather than keeping the physical reminder?  Aside from the sentimental, look around your living spaces and let go of the excess “stuff” that is keeping the space crowded and cluttered. Sing along with me: “Let it go, let it go, let it go!”

4. Organize what is needed, required, desired. Everything in your home needs a home. Start by sorting like items together. Decide where they will live. Infrequently used stuff should be stored high or in the back of cupboard/closets. For things used often or all the time, keep them close at hand. Sort: like with like. You can’t go wrong with an assortment of bins and containers. They’re great for keeping your stuff together, and labeling them makes items quicker to find. Never underestimate the power of a P-Touch label maker! Oh yeah!

5. One room/closet/shelf/drawer, at a time. Clearing the clutter begins with one area. That’s it. Concentrate on one area. Don’t move on until you finish the job. Then move to the next space. It’s nearly impossible (and altogether daunting) to de-clutter a home all at once! Focusing on one room, one closet, one shelf, one drawer at a time makes the task feel more possible and easy to manage.

6. Keep it out or put it away. A desk only needs a few pens, a dish of paperclips, one stapler, one tape dispenser… a few folders of current work… and not much else. Likewise in the kitchen.  If cooking isn’t what you do regularly keep cutting boards and knives in the cupboard. The coffee maker should stay on the counter if you use it everyday. Otherwise, clear some space beneath the cabinet and store it there.

7. Clear the refrigerator. Health reasons aside, too much stuff in your refrigerator makes it difficult to identify what’s on the back of the shelves!  Discard expired food. Move the nearly-expired  to the front of the refrigerator.  Purchase inexpensive storage containers like these at Bed Bath and Beyond.

8. Clear the medicine cabinets. Medicine cabinets are often home to mostly expired medicine, lotions, and all manner of potions.  Find inexpensive drawer organizers at Target Bed Bath and Beyond, or Container Store.  Keep first-aid stuff close at hand. Use baggies to gather hair clips, razors, nail supplies, etc.

9. Use Wall Space and the inside of Closet Doors. Adhesive hooks and towel racks are great storage solutions for clothing accessories and hanging/folding items. Pocket wall organizers like this many uses it would be hard to list! When using wall storage, everything is visible and can easily be accounted and organized for.

10. Maintaining de-cluttered space. Take photos of the newly de-cluttered areas. Think twice about everything that is brought into your space. Will it have a home? Does it have immediate use? Are you buying it for someone else and do they need it?

Top 10 Summer Organizing Tips

Summer is here! This means the kids are home, beach & camping trips are necessary, you have time for a short vacation, the grill is finally being used, and your collection of flowers outside is getting some attention. With so many things going on it is easy to lose track of time and your belongings making clutter a formidable summer foe. Luckily staying organized throughout the summer months is not that difficult and doesn’t require much effort. Here is a list of the Top 10 Summer Organizing Tips:

  1. Keep all of your grilling tools in one place to make it easy to access and so you do not misplace them. A bucket or pail works great and are inexpensive.
  2. When going to the beach or camping, keep all of the mosquito repellent and sunscreen in a Ziploc bag. You can simply put the Ziploc bag in the car or in a tote so it is easily accessible and don’t have to worry about leaks.
  3. Protect your stored winter coats and clothing so they smell nice for next winter. Cedar is great for keeping moths away, I like to get a breathable bag and make my own mix of cedar, lavender, and chamomile to put in my winter closet.
  4. The end of tax season should mean the end of piles of paper. File statements and corresponding deductions’ documents to avoid mixing the papers with others on your desk.
  5. Going on a road trip? A shoe organizer designed to hang on the inside of your closet door is great for the backseat of your car. You can organize your maps, food, games, and other road trip necessities without cluttering your entire car.
  6. Keep an extra trashcan or plastic laundry basket outside for beach/water toys. This way you don’t have to worry about bringing the mess indoors and they are readily available when you need them. Make sure it is ventilated so the toys don’t get moldy.
  7. Keep gardening supplies in one area. A bucket or pail works great and everything is visible so you can grab whatever shovel or tool you need and can bring along the rest.
  8. With school out of session clear out backpacks, school papers, drawings and activity bags. Let your child help to decided what to keep and toss.  Also be sure to sell back textbooks if that’s an option.
  9. Create a summer routine for you and your children. Make a summer chore chart easily visible so your children can see what they need to do for the day before they go out and play. This is also great if your children complain of boredom with their free time, they can help you out around the house.
  10. Plan ahead! Whether it’s a vacation or just a short camping trip, make a list of what you need to do before R&R and a checklist of everything you and the family need to pack (that way you don’t forget anything except your worries).

May you find the organizing system that works best for you!

In Los Angeles, April showers were a blip on the screen and May flowers come up anyway. You gotta love L.A.

With a play on the word May – our organizing theme this month is simple: May you find the organizing system that works best for you!

Not all organizing systems are appropriate for all brain types. Left-brain dominate people may do well with a file system where papers are out of sight. People who rely upon visual cues may create a “piling” system instead. Knowing your brain type will increase the likelihood of maintaining a successful organizing system.

May all your de-clutter dreams come true.

1. Filing system. The point of having a filing system is find and retrieve the information you need when you need it. An effective filing system will save you time and minimize the chance that you will lose important documents and records. Filing is most effective when clearly labeled tabs contain the information on the label. This can include an array of information from finances to recipes. Keep like information together and file paper as soon as you need too. Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to find important records when you need them.

2. Binders. Binders are great visual file systems for everything you can imagine: tax information, emergency contacts, car maintenance, children’s artwork, medical information etc. Be sure to include tabs, sheet protectors, labels, and anything else you will need to keep things in a clearly labeled and easily accessible part of the binder. The binder will only be as effective as you make it. For example, shoving papers in the binder without putting them in the section they should be in can lead to more disorganization and frustration later on.

3. Piles. For those that have a difficult time putting things away, clearly labeled piles can often be helpful and require less effort.

4. Labels. How are you supposed to remember what’s in the bins or boxes in your home if they are not labeled? There is a difference between a box with “tree ornaments” and a box with “house decorations.” The easiest way to identify what you need when you need it is making clearly identifiable labels.

5. Drawer organizers. Any drawer can become the “junk” drawer where finding items can be difficult. Drawer organizers are great for organizing everything from office supplies to socks.

6. Family Calendar. Create a family calendar with a “to do” check list.  If you are in charge of managing multiple schedules keep all activities in one place to avoid overbooking and over-stressing.

7. Bookshelves: Bookshelves aren’t just for books! They can be used to fit bins that contain items off your dressers and floors. Find what works best for you.

8. Zoning: Create zones in your place, like with like. Every item should already have a designated ‘home’ so it can be put back instead of placed into a pile or left on the floor. Use vertical space, cabinets and shelving to create zones for your files, supplies, mail (envelopes, stamps, checkbook) and resources (books/research).

9. Paper: Don’t keep what you don’t need. The majority of what is filed never sees the light of day again. So before you put something away, avoid the “this may come in handy one day” syndrome. Ask yourself: Can I find this information anywhere else? If the answer is “yes” then discard the item. Be sure to download my “Paper Clutter: What To Keep and For How Long” to help you.

10. Use technology to help with your organization. With technology and websites like NeatReceipts, CardScanIntelliscanner, and ScanDigital, you can get rid of business cards, receipts, archive papers and photographs. Your smart phone also has calendar and notepad for you to jot down on-the-go notes you need to remember later on.

Lighten Your Footprint: Top Ten Tips to Celebrate Earth Day!

The month of April is generally a very pleasant time of year and people around the world celebrate the rites of Spring! We clear our gardens of last year’s growth and make the ground ready for flowers and beautiful blooms. Spring is traditionally a time of renewal, cleansing, and preparing for the long days of summer. Many people feel an energy shift during this time of the year. Days are longer and, with that, comes limitless possibilities about how and where to spend your time. It’s a good time for a little introspection, breathing new life into your 2017 goals to help ensure that you will meet them.

Events are held around the world in recognition of Earth Day, April 22nd, which was begun in 1969 in San Francisco, the City of St. Francis, allegedly, the patron saint of Ecology. Earth Day reminds us that if our carbon footprint is tiny, we may have some luck ensuring that the planet may survive the intensity of our desire for more “stuff.”

Here are your Top Ten Tips to minimize your footprint and celebrate Mother Earth!

  1. Take stock of what you’ve got. If you feel over-abundant, or that you just may have too many of one particular thing, now’s the time to decide: how much is enough?
  2. Consider a donation to The Story of Stuff Project, or at least view their amazing 20 minute documentary: The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard.
  3. Let the sun shine in! Clean the windows inside AND out, then shake out the curtains and wash them.
  4. Spring clean with a friend! Ask your favorite pal to help you with a major cleaning of your space – top to bottom. Reciprocate. Repeat as necessary.
  5. Participate in Earth Day events in your community.
  6. Improve your recycling habits. Think about this: Per year , an average family consumes 182 gallons of soda, 29 gallons of juice, 104 gallons of milk, 26 gallons of bottled. That’s a lot of containers.
  7. Cut down on household paper; organize bills online. Here’s one cool way: https://www.finovera.com/
  8. Make this your new mantra: Less is more. Less is more. Less is more. Less is more.
  9. Buy yourself an awesome travel mug for your morning coffee. Be sure to take it into the coffee place when you stop in for a cup (and you’ll get discount on the coffee!)
  10. Don’t forget to take your re-usable shopping bags into the market. If you forget, kindly ask the person in line ahead of you to hold your place while you run to the car. It won’t be long until you always bring them with you!

Top 10 Tips: Getting Un-stuck from the Inside

As you can imagine, I talk with a lot of people about clutter. I hear their stories about how clutter accumulates. Life transitions – birth, death, marriage, divorce, aging parents — sometimes knocks you off your game.  Many say that they just want to wake up one day completely and utterly clutter-free. Some people tell me they would almost welcome a slight house fire or some flood damage, relieving them of the burden of having to decide how to deal with the clutter.
One of the problems of having too much stuff is not knowing how to deal with the problem. A lot of folks feel stuck when it comes to taking action, or, in some cases, waging war, on the mess and chaos that comes with clutter. “Being stuck” has more to do with what you think and how you feel about the clutter, then about the actual pile of papers. Through my experience as a professional organizer and observer of the human nature, I have come to believe that our clutter could very well be the physical manifestation of negative messages we feed our brain. When we tell ourselves we are stuck (or immobile) we believe the message.
We’re already at the end of the first quarter of this year that is no longer new. What is keeping you from creating or moving toward your goal? What did you start the year wanting to accomplish and how is the concept of “feeling stuck” going to make the goal elusive? I say it’s high time to get un-stuck so you can accomplish what you set out to do!
And so I offer… the Top Ten Tips to help you un-stick from some of the places where you feel stuck!
  1. Quiet the mind and take a deep breath. Accept the situation as it is. It is what it is right now. And it is about to change.
  1. Understand these concepts: a) You are not your clutter. b) You are not lazy. c) Clearing clutter means that you have to make regular dates with yourself to get the work done.
  1. We tend to look at the clutter as a monolithic whole. But it’s easier to manage by looking at it in smaller chunks. So… make a list of each cluttered area in your life (be it physical or emotional) as it relates to feeling stuck. Make the list specific: what’s the clutter look or feel like? how long have you had it?
  1. We need to acquire knowledge about where we are at right now to make sense of how to work out of it. Drill down some more: How do you believe the clutter prevents you from creating or reaching a goal. How does the clutter make you feel stuck?
  1. When have you tried to de-clutter? What time of day? How much time did you give to the task? Write about how you have tackled the problem in the past – what worked and what didn’t? Do you keep trying to de-clutter the same way expecting different results?
  1. Re-define for yourself the words “failure” and “success.” I grew up with ideas about the definitions of success and failure. About a year after I started my professional organizing business I experienced months where growth was slow or felt non-existent. Instead of feeling like a failure I decided to re-evaluate what it meant to be a success. And so I decided that for me, a successful month for A Clear Path is the month I don’t have to borrow from my dad. So far, I haven’t had to borrow any money from my dad. See what I mean?
  1. Clutter has a way of muffling sound, it takes up the air, left alone long enough it’ll take on a musty odor. Spend quite time creating a vision in your mind (or cut from pictures and taped to a poster board) of what your ideally cleared spaces will look like, smell like, feel like, sound like.
  1. Think of tackling the clutter strategically. For every hour you take to de-clutter, you need an hour to reintegrate the stuff you intend to keep. Look at the list of your cluttered areas and figure roughly how much time you’ll need for each project. Once you start the process, you’ll know soon enough if you’re in the ballpark.
  1. Get your calendar and start making dates with yourself to clear the clutter. This is really important. Commit. Commit. Commit. Look at the big picture; be realistic. Do you have a lot of time off in the summer? Are you able to devote 2 hours every Saturday? Once a month? When do you feel most “up?” Are you a morning or night person? Schedule the sessions to give yourself every advantage.
  1. Habits: To keep the clutter away you may have to change a few habits. If you habitually drop your clothes on the floor at the end of the day, you may want to change how (or where) you change into your pajamas. You may have piles of mail that’s easily identified as trash for recycling. Think about sorting mail near the recycle bin before you even bring it into the space. If mail is dropped through a slot, sort it on your way to the household recycle container.

Top 10 Tips: An Organized New Year

This is the year! Welcome to 2017! Many people tell me that they want to de-clutter and get organized in this new year but haven’t a clue about where to start. They’re wondering how to clear out the old and bring in the new. The beginning of the year is a time for renewal, creating goals, and acting on particular projects. When you think about goals, be considerate of your physical, financial, and emotional resources. Goals move you toward the actual completion of a project (versus “resolutions” – which is only a “resolve” to do something). Most people can generally work on and complete three to five projects at a time. Before you start to work on your goals, de-clutter where you live now to get your place ready for your projects and plans.

Top 10 Tips: An Organized New Year

1. If you don’t plan to use the holiday gifts you received, return them to the store or donate them. Gift givers don’t want their gifts to become clutter! Separate emotions from possessions. They key to not cluttering is removing the stuff you don’t want.

2. Become more organized with your holiday decorations. Take it one step at a time; don’t overwhelm yourself with taking down all of the decorations at once. Re-use decorative boxes and wrapping paper. If you cannot re-use it, don’t save it. You may want to purchase inexpensive bins with color-themed lids to store your seasonal stuff.

3. Stay away from bargains. Just because an item is drastically reduced does not mean you need to purchase it. Ask yourself if you need it or if you have something similar.

4. Use a calendar. You should already have a calendar for the new year. Whether it is on your phone, in the workspace, or in your home, a calendar is the most effective way to keep track of events, plans, and meetings. And it’s just a good idea to write down goals and deadlines.

5. Divide, organize, and label. Whether it is new gifts, food, household supplies, or other necessities in the home, it is important to keep things together, organized, and labeled so you know what is what.

6. Organize your finances. Ask these questions:

  • Have you recently paid a bill late because you misplaced it?
  • Do you have a list of all accounts, numbers, online IDs and passwords?
  • Do you have a list of all retirement accounts and life insurance policies including beneficiaries?
  • Do you have a recent copy of your credit report?
  • Do you know your credit score?
  • Do you have wills, living wills and durable power of attorney documents?
  • Do you have a specific financial plan for paying down your debt and building your savings, with specific dollar amounts, goals and dates?
  • Do you need a financial organizer, planner, or similar professional to get on track?

7. Create an organizing system that is an extension of your natural habits. If you organize your mail at the kitchen, set up a mail organizing station in the kitchen.

8. Add more organizing efforts into your daily routine rather than subtracting old ones. It is easier to add a habit then to subtract one. For example: after you make a mess, clean it up.

9. Choose to stay organized every day. Take time each day to put items back where they belong. If an item has no “home,” give it one and make sure it stays there. Clean along the way.

10. Take time to organize yourself and your mind. Do the best to create a stress-free environment for yourself. Don’t bite off more than you can chew and overbook yourself. Set aside time each day to unwind and relax. If you are too busy to find time to relax, organize your schedule to set aside time.

Gifts That Don’t Create Clutter

The end of the year! It’s finally here! And yet it won’t leave until we spend time with, or thinking about people we love, or have brought us joy along the way.
In my world as a professional organizer  I walk into a lot of crowded spaces filled with things my client can no longer use, or they feel they don’t need or desire. So many of them tell me that some of the clutter is from gifts they’ve never needed but guilt has kept the gift trapped in their home!
I listen to the holiday gift-buying commercials. Before 12/25, television and radio ads encourage you to buy things that people will LOVE!! After 12/25, the ads change, reminding consumers that since they didn’t get the gift they really wanted, they can exchange it for something they’ll really love! No one, it seems, can win at this game of gift giving/receiving.
Here at a Clear Path we’re all about the gifting that doesn’t cause clutter! Being of service, cooking a great meal, helping someone organize… now those are gifts everyone can use!
So with a grateful heart I offer you, our top 10 list for the holiday season: Gifts that don’t create clutter!
1. Take people you love to dinner or cook for them.  Cook something you know the person likes to eat or take them out to one of their favorite restaurants or dessert spots. Some of the best memories are shared with loved ones at the table.
2. Help a friend de-clutter their closet. Start by emptying out the space you want to organize and create three piles: toss, donate, and keep. Help your friend by asking them, “do you really need/use that?” when deciding which items to keep. Each item you put back should have a “place.”
3. Professional organizer gift certificate. When you know someone who needs organizational guidance for tough jobs or putting an organizing system in place, a professional organizer is an effective way to get the job done.  You will also receive guidance on how to maintain an organized environment. For more information or to order a professional organizer gift certificate, call 818-400-9592 or e-mail regina@aclearpath.net.
4. Experience Gifts create lasting memories and can be described as more enjoyable and fulfilling than any material object. Whether it’s a tour of the city, a hot air balloon ride, a trip to the spa, your loved one will be happy to be spending time with you enjoying the experience.
5. A calendar. New year, new calendar. Everyone needs a new calendar during the year, make yours unique and special by gifting one with custom pictures or choose a theme you know the person receiving the calendar will enjoy.