Category: Home organization (Page 3 of 6)

In With The New, Out With The Old

Cyndi Seidler Organizing Lady

This is a philosophy that has been a long been standing guideline among the professional organizer community. When you bring in something new, get rid of something old.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be “old” to get rid of it. It just has to be older than what you bring in that’s new. It could be something no longer useful, no longer worn, no longer stylish, no longer loved, whatever. But it existed in your space longer than the new item you just brought in.

I, for one, love garage sales and thrift shops. Buying second-hand stuff is like a treasure hunt because I’ll often find things I wouldn’t find in a retail store and at half the cost. But I have to shop smartly, especially when it comes to room decor and art.

When I shop with my daughter, she has to point out what I’m not thinking about at the moment of my new discovery. “Mom, where are you going to put that?” she asks. I then look around my room mentally and can’t find a surface for it anywhere! Darn her!

Now, if I really, really wanted it, I would have to determine what item I could replace it with. No, the tabletop candelabra has to stay. But can I just move that somewhere else possibly? I ask myself. Well, what about that floral vase on the end table? I keep scoping the room out in my mind.

If I am able to find a place for it while scanning the room in my mind, I buy it. But I must really love it in order to buy it at the risk of having to get rid of something else though!

I’ve always had this same principle (or rule) going on regarding my clothes closet, as well. When I buy some new clothing or pair of shoes, I force myself to pull out something I haven’t worn in awhile or no longer love. Sometimes it hurts, but I make myself part with something.

And people love their books. One person I know purchased extra bookshelves to hold all their books, but now there isn’t anymore room for more bookshelves. What if they forced themselves to get rid of a book every time they bought a new book?

Imagine how much better our lives would be when we’re more in control of the belongings we have with this one simple guideline?

To put things into perspective, I try to think of the organized spaces I created and if I would be disrupting the harmonics of the room if I added too much to it. There are some hard choices to make when buying stuff.

Belongings are often personal. So are we willing to let go of something we have in order to replace it with something else? If we part ways with an item, will it haunt us later? Are we so fearful of letting go of something and later think that we wished we kept it?

I’m planning a trip with my daughter to some local thrift shops soon. I’ve gotten even wiser now though. I take photos of my rooms so there’s no mind-guessing on available space and occupied surfaces.

Maybe I’d have to rearrange some decor items on my bookshelf, but I don’t mind that so much. I just have to be careful to not clutter it up!

Of all the guiding rules I try to follow, I must not fall into that idea, “If there’s space somewhere, a woman will fill it.” While I believe that to have some truth – especially in this one area I just moved something out of, leaving a space void – I must keep trying to visualize the “openness” of the area now.

It’s killing me right now, but maybe it will stay an open space, maybe not. Time will tell, depending on my next thrift store treasure find.

The empty space between fireplace and cart. How long will it last?

The Big Get Organized Plot

Cyndi Seidler Professional Organizer

Every story has a plot – a design or setup to an outcome. If there is no plot, the story doesn’t go in a direction to an end.

So let’s say that we want to create our story of getting organized, and we have a plan: “to get organized.” We would need to develop an outline, of sorts, to layout the plan and know our course of action.

Once we have the basic game plan to get organized, we can make projections of the time frame this story plays out. It might be a day, a week, maybe even a month as to when our story begins to when it ends.

But time isn’t what’s really important in the plot, although we don’t want the story to go on endlessly. It’s more about the tactical steps we take in this undertaking.

As we start out, the plot begins to unfold. Now we can see things more clearly, and the “characters” in the plot (the items of clutter) take on new meanings. Usually, they end up having no meaning at all!.

The thing to watch out for in the story is that there is a climax – a point where things reach a maximum pinnacle or utmost turning point.

With clutter, it’s typically the mess we make while going through the process of getting organized. Yet, another circumstance might be that you don’t have a place to put all that clutter you’ve gathered up.

Tensions rise. What do we do with the stuff?!

Well, we find a place for the stuff, or we get rid of the stuff. That’s the resolution to the end of the story.

Then, our story has a happily ever after!

Good Organizing Habits To Help Keep Your Sanity

cyndi seidler the organizing lady

Habits, routines, bla, bla, bla, yadda-yadda. How many times do we hear those words and yet fail to fully understand the concept behind them?

I’m guessing these are just words that some of us don’t really take wholeheartedly (or enthusiastically) in the scheme of our daily life.

Whereas a routine is a regular course of procedure, a habit is an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary (as defined in Merriam-Webster dictionary).

Heaven-forbid, I hope I haven’t lost you in the defining details!

Hate ’em or love ’em, habits and routines do help in managing some of our regular activities. So I’m here to give you a few guidelines that involve being organized that will help put some sanity in your life.

So I’m going to talk about one of the key rules of organizing: Put things away where they belong when done using them.

Everything should have a place, a home, in which it belongs. Our clothes belong in the closet; our books belong on a designated shelf; our kitchen dishes belong in the kitchen cabinet, and so forth.

Beyond that, dirty clothes belong in the hamper; dirty dishes go in the dishwasher or sink to be washed; and books we’re reading belong in a reading spot.

That said, the rule of putting things away applies to just about anything and everything we have around.

In bringing in the mail, for example, it should have a specific place to go (that isn’t on a dining table or end table or plopped on any piece of furniture. Tossing mail to conveniently avoid putting it in its “home” will only build up clutter and extra anxiety later on.

Then there’s the case of putting items in a certain “holding” place and not completing the action to get that item into its proper home.

I’m talking about dirty dishes in this scenario. I know some people who hate washing dishes and pile up dirty dishes in one side of the sink and on the counter for days. Although that is the spot for dirty dishes, the routine would have to include actually washing them (and putting them away) on a daily basis to avoid pile-up.

I’ve probably elaborated enough on the rule to put things away, so I’ll move on to making that habit into a routine.

Simply put, it’s a good idea to incorporate the habit of putting things away into the routine of doing it on a regular or daily basis.

When I’m done with a meal, I make it a routine to clean up the kitchen before I move on to something else. In other words, I don’t actually start something else until I’m done with kitchen cleanup.

And with laundry, when I’m done with washing and drying the clothes, I make it a routine to put my clothes away where they belong before doing something else. The clean clothes don’t sit around for hours or days to get put away – they are done as part of the laundry activity.

My life is calmer as a result of having routines that involve finishing the activities I start. That means I get some sanity in the areas I put attention on.

Get the idea?

Well, give it a try and see how your life goes. You never know how it will change your well being by following this one simple organizing rule.

Achieving The Perfect Fit For Your Stuff

In the ideal world of having stuff, we would be able to have all the stuff we want in the spaces we have. Yet, in the real world this isn’t always the case for those of us who have small spaces and not enough storage.

I’ve seen overcrowded bookshelves with more books than can fit on the shelves. I’ve seen clothes closets so jammed with clothes that you can hardly pull out a piece of clothing. I’ve dealt with stuffed food cabinets, jam-packed file cabinets, cramped linen closets, packed cleaning supply spaces, over-flowing hair and makeup products, more DVDs and CDs than you can listen to in half a lifetime, you name it.

Essentially, I’ve seen more stuff loaded into spaces that just aren’t able to fit them all.

Often times, the spill over of stuff ends up in other areas. That’s not a terrible thing if you have other areas to house the stuff. But that’s just wishful thinking to many of us.

So I’m going to bring up yet another organizing rule (the other rule is about time covered in my article Good Organizing Habits To Keep Your Sanity). This rule is: Fit items in the space allowed for those items without over-crowding the space.

What does this mean for those jammed areas of stuff? Well, simply put, it means to thin out the herd, to get rid of some stuff. It means going through those crowded areas of stuff and deciding what we can live without.

At one time my linen closet contained numerous blankets that I think I was collecting and saving for a guest-army sleepover. It wasn’t until a disaster hit another country resulting in supplies, like blankets, becoming in dire need.

So I went through my blankets and sundry of throws and began to fill a rather sufficient donate bag. When I was done, I had left myself enough blankets to accommodate weather change blankets and one for the guest bed. And my closet looked GREAT when I was done, the now perfect fit for my blankets! Who knew?!

Not only that, but it felt good to donate stuff that I really didn’t need but others needed. I feel the same way about donating to other places as well because people can find second-hand goods they need or want at half the normal retail cost. So, I’m contributing to a good cause when I’m getting rid of my stuff.

Okay, I may have gotten a little off topic on donating stuff, yet I felt it was relevant in what we can do with the stuff we’re getting rid of. I certainly don’t want you to box it up and store it! Please!

And that brings me to my last point on this subject – don’t store what you don’t use (unless it’s important papers or photos). Storage areas, like a garage or attic, should only contain archival boxes. For example, if you’re storing dishware that you don’t use, ask yourself, “Why?”

Space for most of us is a valuable commodity. Use it well without over-using its capacity. A freed-up space is a happier space, and that happiness bounces right back to you.

May all your spaces smile at you!

Fresh Starts, Clean Sweeps

Cyndi Seidler, The Organizing Ladty

Making changes in your life can either be disruptive or settling or both. Some changes are forced upon us while other changes are self-imposed. Either way, we need to deal with it, or it will deal with us.

I like to look at change as a new chapter in my life. I’ve moved many times, I’ve gone through a divorce, and I’ve had loss of jobs, like many of you. I believe it’s how we tackle those kind of changes that makes a difference in how we move forward and how we feel at the end of the day.

One lady I met recently was going through a divorce with a bad husband, foreclosure on her large, spacious home and having to move to a much smaller space. I helped her with holding a large moving sale and getting rid of 85% of her belongings to be able to fit into the smaller apartment she was going into. It was heart-breaking, to put it mildly.

While I was working with her, she was quite depressed at first. I offered whatever encouraging words I could find to help her get through this transition and, by the end of the sale, she was looking ahead at a new future and the next chapter in her life.

I wanted to share this story because her attitude shifted from the feeling of despair over her life changes and reflecting over the past to being hopeful while anticipating and planning her future.

Her next chapter included a fresh start, a new beginning. The burdens of up-keeping a large home on her own and dealing with a bad husband were behind her. And it’s how she shifted her point of view that helped her look forward, not behind.

There was once a reality TV show called CLEAN SWEEP that would empty a cluttered up room or entire house of its belongings and have the owners look through their stuff to decide what to keep, donate, and sell. Then they would have a yard sale followed by creating a new look inside the home.

It was a fresh start. A new look. A way to begin the next chapter of living with a clean slate. It’s quite therapeutic actually. People feel better; they feel happier in their new space.

So if you’re feeling stuck or unhappy in your environment, you can do something about it without it doing something to you first. Maybe that’s the time for a clean sweep in your space and a fresh start with a new look.

I propose taking a look at what you want to change in your environment and then taking steps to change it. And always try to look at the bright side of change – that it’s going to be better, and it’s going to be better because you’ve decided so.

Now, let it be so.

Taking First Steps To Organizing

The most common issue I’ve come across with people who want to get organized is that they just don’t know where to start. Usually the case is when things get so out of control that the task becomes overwhelming.

Now, in order to determine where to begin, we first have to observe the surrounding area that we want to tackle. Just “looking” at the area and saying to yourself, “Urgh, this is a mess!” is not enough to deal with it, although it’s a good semi-starting point.

The real place to begin is to fully observe the room or space you want to organize. That means to examine things and try to find the underlying cause for the clutter, such as:

  • Clothes are piled on the floor which are dirty and have accumulated there instead of the clothes hamper to be washed.
    • Reason: You might find that the hamper is full, or just not placed in a convenient spot to easily toss dirty clothing.
    • Solution: wash clothes more often and/or place hamper in a better spot and/or get a larger hamper.
  • Papers are spread out all over the dining table and cannot be used to eat at anymore.
    • Reason: Your home office area is cluttered, therefore you needed a place to work on current bills, etc.
    • Solution: Organize the office area first (using same observation methods) and then incorporate the papers from the dining table into the organized office.
  • Hobbies, project stuff, and/or kid toys are lying around and cluttering up the room.
    • Reason: Bad habits of not putting things away where they belong resulted in the accumulation of stuff in common areas.
    • Solution: Get things put away, then establish a routine of cleaning up the area by putting things away when done using them.

And so on, and so forth.

After observing the area or space, you should pretty much know what needs to be done. However just putting things away may not be enough.

By that I mean, we may need to determine better solutions for our stuff, like what “organizing tools” can be used to get organized with. For example, if paper gets out of control, find tools to handle the flow of paper and the paper itself . This could be tray baskets, desktop file organizers, etc.

Observing something is actually confronting what is in front of you, and that is why it’s the first step to getting organized. When we don’t confront something, it’s easy to ignore it, or not even see it at all.

Try the challenge of taking that first step in getting organized. I say challenge, because it’s essentially a start to getting organized and that can be a daunting thought!

Have a fun organizing adventure and Godspeed!

Finding Time To Organize Your Home

Cyndi Seidler manage time

Time is a funny thing. We loose it, we can’t keep up with it, we run out of it, and we just can’t seem to manage it.

We also use time as an excuse why we can’t get things done that we want to get done. I myself tend to blame time on a number of activities that I intended to do but didn’t get to doing.

There’s still hope in getting things done and defeating the time monster.

Here, our challenge is to find time. But, in order to find it, we would have had to lost it first. Makes sense, right?

Wrong. We are perfectly capable of finding time without it ever having been lost in the first place. Because it exists somewhere, and we just need to go looking for it.

It’s sort of like the game “hide and seek” where someone hides and then you have to go find them. Time is similar. It seems to hide from us and all we have to do is go find it.

Take your typical day, for example. Some routines exist, like what we do in the morning before work, or how we go about preparing daily meals, or whatever it is that we do regularly. We’ve obviously made sure to set aside some time in doing these activities.

Maybe organizing hasn’t been an essential task to take on, so therefore you don’t need time to devote to it. However, if you’re reading this, I doubt if that’s your case.

Keeping an organized home is an essential activity for your well being and your stress levels. Therefore, let’s see how we can find that elusive commodity we call time.

Time lurks in the crevices of our day. It’s often hidden between other activities we’re engaging in. But it’s there.

Once we’ve taken a glimpse of any time available to us, we can then reserve that time. Think of it as making a dinner reservation and schedule it before something else takes that time slot.

You don’t have to call this a home organizing appointment. Call it something more fun, like “My well being project” or “My creative time” or “Cure clutter blues” or whatever you like.

So after you’ve found time and scheduled what you want to do in that time, you’ll want to do what you can to use it. Yes, using time is part of the equation.

You can set reminders, you can do what needs to be done to prepare for that time, and you can keep that time in your face so that it doesn’t slip by.

So simple, yet so hard to do. Yes? But trust me, when you want to get something done, this is how you do it.

Good luck!

Becoming Fit While Organizing Your Stuff

I’m not a big fan of exercise so what I tend to do is ignore the feeling that I need to do exercise and hope that the feeling goes away eventually.

However, being in the older age range bracket, my doctor says I need to exercise. Bah-humbug, I say to myself.

I know, some people love to exercise. Maybe you’re one of them? If so, listen up anyway because you still might like what I have to say.

So, what I’d like to introduce you to is “organizing fitness”. It involves a bit of bending, some stretching, and possibly a little lifting. Essentially though, it involves moving the body.

Take, for example, re-organizing your closet. In this exercise, you will be moving your arms upwards toward the clothes rod (stretching); you would also need to bend over to pick things up off the floor (bending); and the body would need to move from the closet to the area where discarded clothing goes (moving body).

Do that for 15-20 minutes and you’ve got a nice workout happening.

Recently, I decided to do some organizing fitness with the books on my bookshelf. They just seemed to be getting clogged up with too many books and I wanted to insert some display stuff on the shelves too.

I put on my yoga pants and a long-sleeved tee-shirt (it’s colder weather right now), and I proceeded to head over to the bookshelf.

I reached up to the books on the upper shelves and started looking them over. I pulled out any books that didn’t give me love anymore and placed them on a cart table I placed nearby.

When I got to the lower shelves, instead of sitting on the floor, I thought I should bend over to sort through them to give me some bending time in this fitness slot.

By the time I was finished, I had a 30 minute workout that included stretching, bending, lifting books, and moving my body. I was proud of myself. And, I had a little over a dozen books to donate to my local library.

Funny thing is, I may not be getting on a treadmill or jogging or taking long walks and all that sort of thing, but I’m staying fit while staying organized!

Try it. You just might like it.

Watch video:

Decluttering For The Soul

Walk into a space that doesn’t make you feel good in it, and there’s something wrong with that space.

On the other hand, walk into a space that uplifts you and I can say with full certainty that there’s everything right about that space.

A pleasant space affects our well being in the way that a child or loved one (or even a pet) gives out loving kisses that results in our feeling of joy and happiness. It’s just a “feel good” feeling overall.

Yet, a hostile space makes us feel uncomfortable or sad or frightened or angry or in despair. A hostile space always creates a negative feeling, no matter what that negative feeling may be.

Sometimes we can escape a hostile area as swiftly as we entered it, and sometimes we are left stuck in it for a certain period of time.

What’s a hostile area, you ask? Well, let’s look at a homeless person’s encampment – usually cluttered with unattractive items stacked like a pile of garbage thrown on the ground. You probably don’t feel so good in that area, right? So essentially, if you’re not feeling so great, it’s considered hostile toward your well being.

Clutter isn’t pretty. I’d have to say it’s hostile to our spiritual well being. A cluttered environment is going to drive us down unless we sweep it out of existence.

If the space is cluttered, it’s an indication that we’ve been in a bit of a slump (spiritually or otherwise). It’s a viscous circle because the area is making us feel bad, yet the space got that way when we were not feeling so chipper.

Simply put, our environment can make us feel good, or it can make us feel bad. And our own space is usually a reflection of how we’re feeling most of the time.

If we start feeling better about life and things in general and then we walk back into the bad environment we had created while we weren’t feeling so great, we’re likely to head back into a slump.

This is where we need to pull ourselves up and get our environment in good shape first and foremost, no matter what it takes.

A happy environment will smile at us. And that is just good for the soul.

Watch my latest video where I give some solutions to make your environment a happy one.

Organizing A Photo Collection Into The Digital Space

Got lots of photo prints? Many people do, especially in the days when we had photos developed.

Well, a mother of a friend of mine decided it was time to share all her accumulated photos with the entire family. Organizing a photo collection was the first part of this hefty project, so she organized them into large zip-lock Hefty storage baggies for each member of the family, and dumped every photo and keepsake item into the appropriate baggie.

ziplock baggie with photos

This was a large family with lots of grown kids and their family and cousins and aunts and uncles and so forth. So the collection of photos was mind-boggling. Pictured below is just one box of this collection!

IMG_5305

My friend said, “Hey mom, it’s the digital age. Why don’t we scan all the photos too?”

This was a brilliant idea because everyone in the family would also have digital photos. And, although the task was a daunting one at first due to the number of baggies and photos, it actually wasn’t so bad once the task was started.

The first order of business for this project was to get a photo scanner appropriate for this type of job. So my friend decided that a Epson V550 Photo scanner would be the machine to make this project go faster, so she purchased one.

She could put several photos on the glass and the scanner would scan each one. Not only that, but she could scan entire pages from a photo album.

Epson photo scanner

The scanned photos went into the “Pictures” folder on her computer. Within 5 hours (over the course of a few days spending less than a couple hours at a time) she had over 600 photos scanned. The job was only half done, but progress was being made!

IMG_5297

Since her computer could only hold so much, the time came when she had to move the scanned photos to a WD Passport portable hard drive. This freed up the hard drive space in her computer to allow her to continue scanning more photos.

external hard drive for photos

Framed photos were scanned, developed rolls of camera photos were scanned, photo album pages were scanned. They all went into the digital space in perfect resolution.

She didn’t spend time renaming the photos because that adds a lot more time to the project. So it’s a good idea to organize the photos into named folders.

organizing a photo collection

The beauty of this project is that now all the family photos can be shared among the family for years to come. And those memories will always be there to find – a lot easier than sifting through boxes and packets of photos, or even photo albums to find a photo memory.

Share your thoughts about organizing a photo collection!

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