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.

 

 

Top 10 Tips: Organizing to make your Halloween a Treat

It’s officially Fall in Los Angeles although you wouldn’t know it: the weather forecast for today is 95 degrees. But judging by the plethora of pop-up Halloween Costume stores, it’s obvious the fall season has arrived!

Halloween has grown into a special day for young and old alike. Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts.

In LA, one of the biggest costume parties of the year is the celebration of Halloween on the streets of West Hollywood (check it out HERE – you’ve got to go at least once!) 

To ready yourself for the festivities, A Clear Path Presents:

Top 10 Tips: Organizing to make your Halloween a Treat

1.  Prepare your costume ahead of time. There is always a last minute rush for Halloween costumes, or are you that one person who actually ends up wearing a sheet with two holes cut out? Don’t be that person! If you are on a budget, inexpensive costumes may be found at thrift stores and discount clothing retailers (Marshalls, TJ Maxx, etc.). You can also exchange costumes with a friend or relative or make your own.

2. Make lists and calendar priorities. Make a list of everything you and your family need to do before Halloween. Give yourself “deadlines” to get a costume ready, prepare treats, RSVP to events, etc. If you are a visual person, write these items on a calendar and use a different color for each family member’s “deadline”.

3. Organized decorating. Time to collect the Halloween décor from years’ past. Notice if they are all placed in one spot or if the decorations are scattered throughout hiding spots in you home. Be mindful of how the decorations will be put back. Make sure the decorations do not interfere with daily life throughout your home.

4. Keep your pets safe with these tips from www.petmd.com:

  • Keep Halloween plants such as pumpkins and corn out of reach
  • Keep pets confined and away from the door during Trick-or-Treat time
  • Don’t leave pets out in the yard on Halloween
  • Trick-or-treat candies are not for pets
  • Don’t keep lit pumpkins around pets
  • Don’t dress your pet in a costume if it irritates your pet
  • Try on pet costumes before the big night
  • Make sure your pet has the proper identification in case of an accident

5. If you are organizing a Halloween Party, plan ahead. Make sure the invitations are out, you have an RSVP list and a meal plan, decorate, and get the Halloween party activity supplies (bobbing for apples, pumpkin carving, etc.) ready beforehand.

6. Carving pumpkins. Make sure you have all of your pumpkin carving tools (or just a lot of kitchen knives), and a designated pumpkin carving area. When you gut the insides, dispose of the waste right away, perhaps in a compost box, roast the seeds, or find a use for the pumpkin insides

7. Take reusable bags with you when you go trick-or-treating.  Paper and plastic bags may easily tear, spilling Halloween treats and disappointing children. Reusable bags are much more durable and better for the environment.

8. Organize the treats you bought ahead of time. If you are expecting a rush of trick-or-treaters, place various treats into a “treat” bag that each trick-or-treater can grab.

9. Clean up as you go along. Whether you’re baking, carving pumpkins, making a costume, or decorating, cleaning up as you go along will save time and probably a headache.

10. Storing Halloween decorations. Follow these simple tips:

  • Designate a place
  • Storage bins
  • Label everything
  • Store similar decorations together
  • Discard or donate

Top 10 Tips: An Organized Earthquake

Be Aware! Please prepare!

“It’s coming. I can feel it in my bones,” said Isabel, a client who asked for help assembling the family earthquake kit. I reminded Isabel that of course it is coming, here in West Los Angeles we live about as close to a fault line as anyone would want!

Personally, I think it’s kind of kooky that everyone living in California does not have an earthquake kit. Heck, I’ve got a kit in my car, one next to my front door, and a canvas bag beneath my bed, just near the head of my bed. The bag contains tennis shoes, jeans, socks, underwear, hoodie, reading glasses, flashlight, water purifier, batteries, and cash (small bills). I am ready for WHEN (not if!) the next big EQ rocks L.A!

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. I know a lot of folks who want to hold on to their stuff “just in case.” But the chances of a big earthquake occurring, are probably higher than the chance you’ll need that extra toaster you’re holding onto for “just in case.

When I moved into my apartment I purchased two small, 1-person EQ kits at a local Surplus store. You can also find them at places like Lowe’s or Home Depot, or you can build your own. For local resources throughout the state, visit the website for the California Earthquake Authority.

This month’s Top Ten Tips to provides additional resources, ideas, and ways to prepare for what we all know can occur at any moment (even though we’re also in denial!).

An Organized Earthquake 

1.   When shaking begins:

  • Lie down length-wise next to a bed or couch so you don’t get crushed by a collapsing table or desk. 
  • Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you’re sure it’s safe to exit. 
  • Stay away from bookcases or furniture that can fall on you. 
  • Stay away from windows. In a high-rise building, expect the fire alarms and sprinklers to go off during a quake. 
  • Roll over and lie lengthwise against the bed on the floor! That way the bookcase or glass doors near your bed lands on the bed and not on you!) 
  • If you are outdoors, find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, and power lines. Drop to the ground. 
  • If you are in a car, slow down and drive to a clear place. Stay in the car until the shaking stops. Avoid overpasses or underpasses.

2. Secure your items, placing pesticides, flammable containers, and breakable china on the bottom of cabinets with a secure latch. Consider consulting a professional to learn how to make your home sturdier. You can bolt bookcases to wall studs, install strong latches on cupboards, and strap the water heater to wall studs.   

3. Know how you will communicate/stay up-to-date after the shaking stops.

  • 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.  
  • Pen, pencil, and paper pad to leave messages.  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.  This is an easy way to stay in touch with family far away. 
  • List of important phone numbers. 
  • Weather radio or police scanner.

  4. Keep your home secure. 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.   

5. Locate a place in each room of the house where you can go to in case of an earthquake. Make sure family members also know where this space is. 

6.  Go to a designated public shelter if your home had been damaged and is no longer safe. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).   Stay away from damaged areas unless your assistance has been specifically requested by police, fire, or relief organizations. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.   

7. Know what to do if there is an earthquake at work.  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 contacts. Keep the area under your desk free of waste-paper baskets and the like. This six-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.  Inspect utilities: Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.   Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.   Check for sewage and water lines damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes. 

  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, environment.nationalgeographic.com, and theepicenter.com for great emergency response.

How To Start Decluttering Your Home from Makespace.com

15 Actionable Tips From Certified Professional Organizers

Decluttering your home can be a massive undertaking, one that sometimes feels too daunting to even attempt.

But like most things in life, the hardest part is getting started. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of no-fail decluttering tips from the experts — certified professional organizers with years of experience under their belts — to help you start decluttering your home and taking control of your space.

Read more…

De-Cluttering a Kitchen – Top Ten Tips

The Kitchen! OY!!

Some places in our kitchen resemble caverns – dark and deep. We’ve got stuff tucked way, way back that haven’t seen the light of day for years (heck, we could say the same about refrigerators!). In addition, many of us no longer entertain as we once did but our bulky serving trays and bowls are also stuck in time. From my observation, most kitchens have more than one junk drawer (and if it’s junk why do you throw it in a drawer?). Old table napkins take up space, and a birds-eye view indicates more than enough wooden spoons, potato mashers, garlic presses, and spatulas.

The task of clearing the kitchen of superfluous items seems daunting. Planned well, the job may be performed relatively easily. I can’t overemphasize the importance of using your calendar to schedule time to get the work done. If it’s not on the calendar, the likelihood that you will reach your goal of tackling your kitchen is decreased.

Our Top Ten Tips to de-clutter your kitchen provides a good start to creating better flow in the room you use several times a day. For more advice, send an email to me with photos. I can help assess and offer suggestions.

Happy June!
Regina Lark Certified Profesional Organizer and owner of A Clear Path (aclearpath.net) and Silk Touch Moves (silktouchmoves.com)

June Top 10 Tips: An Organized Kitchen

 

1. Start by getting rid of expired or unused items (yes, even spices and tea expire eventually). Discard    items that you haven’t used, or don’t plan to use. How many toasters do you have? How many do you or your family use on a regular basis?

2. Take everything that does not belong in the kitchen out of kitchen. Oftentimes, the kitchen serves as a  catch all for all activities for all members of the family.

3. If you’re short on space, think vertically and stack items. Hang pots and pans to free up storage space.

4. Avoid counter top clutter by using a cake stand to store salt and pepper and other frequently used items when your cake stand isn’t housing a cake, think of it as a Lazier Susan.

5. Evaluate your cookbooks. Which ones have you used and what is decoration? Are your cookbooks near grease or humidity? Consider taking out the recipes you use and putting them in a binder. Better yet, use a tablet instead of a cookbook to save space.

6. If you don’t have much space and entertain often, consider purchasing a rolling cart. Not only can you easily transport and store heavy dishes, but you will also get extra counter space.

7. Save money by purchasing in bulk and storing in large glass containers or mason jars.

8. Take inventory regularly, Hang a whiteboard near the refrigerator to help keep track of what items you need and what items you have.

9. Get rid of items that are missing their partners. For example, if you have one chopstick but are missing the other, get rid of it. Same thing applies for Tupperware lids and bowls. Mark your calendar to spend some time with the plastic-ware and match everything up!

10. Corral loose flavor packets, tea packets, personal size condiments, etc. into small bins and containers. Bins can also be used to store bigger items like reusable water bottles.

Top Tem Moving Tips from Silk Touch Moves

Relocating your home office

Has your business outgrown your home office? When should you consider relocating your home office?

It can be quite rewarding for startup businesses to work at home because it’s a good way to save on expenses. Not only do you save money on rent, utilities, office supplies and personnel expenses, but since you don’t have to commute, you save on fuel and vehicle maintenance. However, the business could grow to an extent where you need more space, but how can you tell if it’s the right time to move?

Reasons to Consider Relocating Your Home Office

  • You Need More Employees

When you need to hire employees to work at your office, you may not want them entering your home every day. Depending on your business, it could be possible to have them work remotely, but for some, supervision may be crucial. For this reason, if your business has grown and you want to have employees working in the office while you are away, it’s time to think about relocating out of your home.

  • You Are Running Out of Space

As your business grows, you might be forced to accumulate inventory or technology to enhance your operations. If you find your home office space is getting smaller by the day, then it’s time to consider other options. You could rent a storage space for your product inventory, if that is your only concern. However, if you need to upgrade equipment, such as an industrial printer, and it’s larger than the space available at your home office, you’ll need to move.

  • Present a Professional Appearance

For businesses where clients need to visit the office before they decide whether to purchase your product, renting an office space can help to improve your business image. The more professional your business looks, the more moving with the help of a certified professional organizer like Regina Lark can ease the stress of any moveattractive it will be to customers, and therefore earn more money. If the estimated increase in the customer base or sales is higher than the expenses incurred when renting an office space, relocating might actually help your business to grow.

Finding a reason and deciding to relocate your home office can be quite straightforward, but when it comes to deciding where to relocate to, well, it may not be easy. Here are a few tips:

  • Proximity to Your Home

If you can find an office space close to home, you’ll save a lot of time by having a short commute. The more time you spend commuting to work, the less time you have for work. However, if your clientele is location-specific, you may need to strike a balance on the distance.

  • Consider a Shared Office

You can save on rent and curb any loneliness by opting for an open office. In this situation, you share the office cost with others, as well as employees, such as the receptionist. The opportunity for community conferences can also come in handy.

  • Hire a Moving Company

Since your home office is a source of income for the household, you need to give it the utmost attention when moving out. With the heavy and sensitive equipment around the office, such as desks, electronics, computers, printers, and books, it’s always a good idea to hire a reputable moving company. This will ensure that all of your items are handled with care, and that what would have been an overwhelming experience goes smoothly.

Upon moving, be sure to notify your clients that you’ve changed your address. You can do this by email, phone, with business cards, or put it on your website.

Good luck in your new office!

Use these top ten tips form organizing before a move from certified professional organizer Regina Lark to remove stress from a moving.

 

May and June Speaking Engagements for Regina Lark, Ph.D. CPO®

5/24/16:
Speaker – “Strategies for De-Cluttering your Life”
Brandeis University Alumni Knosh & Knowledge
Rustico’s Ristorante Italiano
11:30 – 2:00
1125 Lindero Canyon Rd., Westlake Village
Closed to Alumni and their guests

6/1/16:
Speaker – “Psychic Debris and crowded Closets – the Relationship Between the Stuff In Your Head and the Stuff Under Your Bed”
Jewish Family Services Life Program at Park LaBrea
Park La Brea Activity Center Theater – 535 S. Curson Avenue, Los Angeles
1:00-2:00pm

6/2/16:
Speaker – “Help for Hoarding: It Takes a Village”
21st Annual Professional Fiduciary Association of California Educational Conference
Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa
2:30-4:00pm
PFACMeeting.org

6/8/16:
Panelist – “People who Hoard and those Who Help Them”
LA County Department of Mental Health Hoarding Forum
8:00-4:00pm
1000 North Alameda Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Free

6/9/16:
Speaker – “Help for Hoarding: It Takes a Village”
Silverado Beach Cities | Memory Care Community
11:00-1:00pm
514 N Prospect Ave | Redondo Beach, CA 90277
Free – but RSVP Tel (310) 896-3100

6/10/16:
Speaker – “Strategies for De-Cluttering your Life”
Benjamin Center Cancer Support Community
3:00-4:30pm
1990 S Bundy Dr #100, Los Angeles, CA 90025
Free