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!

Moving Hacks

Many websites have lengthy lists for making your move smooth – but here are some tips to save you time and money!

Pack your dishes and breakables in your clothing to save on bubble wrap and padding
Keep Ziploc bags handy for screws and hardware after items are taken apart. Be sure to label the bags with the contents!
Ask your local liquor or grocery store for extra boxes so you don’t have to buy them.
If you are relying on friends and family to help with your move, be courteous and give them as much notice as possible. Know what tasks you will need help with and ask the right people. And provide pizzas and soda!

Use small boxes for heavy items. Don’t struggle with a box of books that you cannot lift.

Top 5 Tips: Moving in a Hurry


Move one room at a time. This will help you keep focus as well as help you keep your items together, which makes the unpacking process much faster! Set goals with how much time you want to take to complete each room. Don’t think about moving on to the next room until the previous one is completely finished.

Organize and label correctly-don’t start putting random items in random boxes. Ensure the box with kitchen appliances is actually kitchen appliances!

Have designated donation and trash piles. At the end of your packing, make a trip to the donation center or the dump.

Put on your favorite music and make the experience as fun as possible.

If you become overwhelmed, call in your posse whether they be friends, family, or a moving company.

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.

Extra Items for Moving Day

Moving day is always a big day as movers are rushing in and out and the place you’re leaving is in utter chaos!! Before things get too crazy – take a breath and use the handy list below to ease the anxiety and ensure you’ll have access to important papers, extra boxes, medications, and the all-important phone chargers!

Set aside several boxes and tape for last minute moving items like bedding and miscellaneous items. Be sure to indicate on the box what is in it to help with the unpacking.
Make a schedule. Make a realistic plan for the events that need to take place on moving day. List back-up plans for unexpected surprises.
Ensure you have the keys for both your new and old homes.
Keep all important papers and documents with you.
Have an overnight bag with an extra set of clothes, phone chargers, laptop cords, dry shampoo, and toothbrush, etc.

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.

Clothing is Not an Option: 5 Top Tips for Packing Clothes

When we’re packing clothes before a move we’re often tempted to lift from drawer to box (and back again in the unpack). Hanging clothes get similar treatment. But our biggest tip before you move is to de-clutter your entire wardrobe before anything is placed into cardboard. After that… Silk Touch Moves and Relocations offers these handy tips for packing up the clothes that you will wear at your new destination.

1. If you have lightweight dressers, keep the clothing in the drawers and wrap the outside of the dresser (ensuring shelves do not fly open) with plastic wrap. Make sure there are no loose change or random items in the drawers.

 


2.  If you have a lot of hanging clothes, use a wardrobe box to keep the items intact and still hanging. The downside to a good quality wardrobe box is the cost and space it takes up. If you don’t want to buy a wardrobe box, group several items together and put them in a yardbag while they are hanging.

 


3. Before you put clothing into boxes, pack your suitcases so the contents do not take up your cardboard box supply.

 

4. Make sure you are packing only the clothing you will want to wear in your new home. It’s a great idea to sort through your clothes before packing and purge your wardrobe of items with holes or tears.

 

5. Pack your clothes in like groups such as jeans with jeans, t-shirts with t-shirts, etc. This will make the unpacking process faster and more efficient.

Top 10 Tips: Moving into a Residence Hall or Smaller Living Space

1. Plan in advance. Important information to consider:
  • Move-in date
  • Address
  • Places to park and unload your items
  • Roommate contact information
  • Lists of prohibited items
2. Consider what your lifestyle will be like in this small space. Will you be eating out? If so, nix the redundant kitchen items and cookbooks. Is there a place in the building for entertaining or will you need space for more than one person? What will the weather be like? If you’re moving to Southern California from the East Coast, you will likely not be needing a winter coat, for example.
3. Invest in a small safe for money, important documents, your journal, and other small valuables.
4. After you’ve considered everything you need, make a list of items you must bring. Evaluate the list. What can you do without in your new small space? Stick to this list. Cut back on duplicate and the just-in-case items.
5. Start packing in advance. If you cannot fit all the items into a regular vehicle, chances are you have too many things

6. Mark each box by space (ie. kitchen, closet, shoes, etc.) and fill the box with the appropriate items.

7. Vacuum seal your clothing. This will help preserve the clothing and also save space/boxes

8. Photograph the back of your electronics before you disconnect them so that when they are unpacked, it is easier to see how they plug into different places.

9. Bring an overnight bag with extra clothes, toiletries, snacks, etc., or anything you may need so you are best able to function for the next day or two.

10. If you don’t have much storage space, and items typically hidden behind doors are out in the open, invest in aesthetically pleasing household items.

Moving Without The Mess!

Moving is messy and we know it! As you contemplate your next move from home or office, consider these Top 5 Tips…

1. Get rid of the items you don’t want, use or need before you move. This includes clothing items, accessories, toiletries, furniture that may not fit in your new home, etc. You don’t need to pack up three can openers. Arrange for a donation pickup or garage sale with the leftover items.

2. Make a schedule and start packing one room at a time. Make a timeline of when you expect to complete a room and stick to it. Realistically plan when you will have time to pack and how long it will take you to clear out a room.

3. Leave boxes open until it is time to move. This will give you the opportunity to put miscellaneous items in the correct room where they belong.

4. Before you move into your new home, make a floor plan of where your belongings are going to be placed. Make the tough decisions ahead of time so when you are unpacking you know where to put your items.

5. Label everything! Label the boxes and label the rooms so the right boxes go into the correct rooms.