Messy room needing organization

Tips for When to Hire a Professional Organizer

Are you finding that the act of organizing is not something you do well, especially when you are by yourself? Sometimes just having another person in the room with you helps you to remain focused and continue organizing. Here are some tips to help you know when it’s time to hire a Professional Organizer:

  1. Are you unsure as to where or how to begin organizing?
  2. Do you have more stuff than your home or office can contain?
  3. Do you need to learn organizing systems and techniques?
  4. Does the terminology “organizing systems and techniques” make your head spin?
  5. Do you have a looming deadline for completing an organizing project, such as a move?
  6. Do you need the expertise of someone trained in helping chronically disorganized people?
  7. Are you dealing with medical, physical or psychological issues in addition to disorganization?
  8. Will you need ongoing organizing assistance or maintenance?
  9. Do you need someone to help you organize large quantities of things or papers?
  10. Do you want or need the objectivity of a neutral third-party?

If you answered “yes” to some or all of these questions, you will definitely benefit from the assistance of a Professional Organizer. Please contact me to schedule an assessment. If you are not in the Metro DC area, we can still conduct an over the phone assessment and I can assist you in locating someone in your area.

how to overcome procrastination

How to Overcome Procrastination

Procrastination – ah, the word that we all love and do. Good thing is that it’s a habit we can break. Most of us dislike change – eww – and we do not welcome when change occurs. However, we will benefit greatly when we become willing to CHANGE and develop new habits to help us overcome procrastination. Here are a few ideas to help you learn how to overcome procrastination:

  1. Remember that is it motivation that gets you started but it’s HABITS that keep you going. Don’t get ready to get ready – just get started!
  2. Write down your goals – you decide whether you are focusing on personal goals or professional goals. Writing them down will help you focus on them. Be specific. The more detail you write down, the better.
  3. Prioritize the goals. Why? Because as the saying goes, you can’t eat an elephant in one bite. Prioritizing the goals will assist you in moving forward in achieving them.
  4. Here’s some fun: write out an action plan and make it REALISTIC! What? How do I do that? If you aren’t   that good at estimating how long something will take, use a factor of “x 2” or “x 3” to determine length of time (this reminds me of someone I knew years ago who would answer the question “how long will it take to get there?” with 40 minutes. I learned to multiply by a factor of 3 – yes 3! – And that we would actually take 2 hours to get there! This person did it for EVERYTHING, so clearly he had no sense of time and I had to learn to recalculate the time to manage my own expectations.) I digress.
  5. Do you know the 80/20 rule? Okay, you don’t. An example of the 80/20 rule that is easy to understand uses the clothes in your closet. You probably wear 20% of the clothes 80% of the time. Now let’s apply the 80/20 rule to the goals, plan and schedule you have written down: to keep yourself from getting started, learn to make decisions with just 80% of the facts. We aren’t shooting for perfection – we are shooting for DONE.
  6. Do you tend to have all or nothing thinking? Meaning that if   you can’t do it   perfectly you won’t do it at all? Yeah, that is a sign of procrastination. Breaking up your goals, plan and schedule into smaller increments will help you keep moving forward. Use something like a timer and set it for 15 minutes to focus on a task. Then when the 15 minutes is up, you can choose to set it for another 15 minutes or stop. It’s amazing what we can get done in 15 minutes versus thinking we have to work on something for hours on end.

Okay, do you think you can do this? If not, consider finding a friend, family member, peer or even hiring a life coach to help you get started and keep moving forward. If it’s regarding an area of your home or office, I’m here to assist! Don’t live in the Metro DC area? Not a problem! We can do Google hangouts or Skype calls and I can coach you remotely and help you get started on organizing.

“Perfection is the worst enemy of good enough.” ~ Anonymous

Don’t let perfection or procrastination keep you from achieving your goals.

Bling donation
Decluttering, Donations

What do I do with all my bling?

I don’t know about you but I used to buy jewelry and shoes and clothes like I was in the fashion industry. Thousands upon thousands of dollars of famous label clothing, I had jewelry designed for me by a local jeweler, and I loved having a pair of shoes to go with each outfit, and then some! Fast forward 30 years and my how things have changed! Due to an injury, I no longer wear shoes with any heel and the jewelry I had designed and made for me no longer fits my fingers. Yes, I could get them resized but my tastes (and my skin tone in relation to wearing silver or gold jewelry) have changed a lot in the last 30 years. Thanks mid-life!

I figured out how to eliminate the famous label clothing (it didn’t fit either) and had a “sisterhood of the traveling pants” group where we exchanged clothes. For the remaining clothes, I donated them to Suited For Change, which is a great organization! Shoes were also handled in the same manner. But what about the bling?

Why not sell the real pieces of gold and silver for their value by weight? Good idea! So I gathered up all the pieces I had to sell, went to my appointment with the jewelry rep and they told me which pieces were real or not. Then they divided them by category (14K, 18K, sterling) and I walked out with jewelry I didn’t wear anymore and almost $400 in my pocket! Sweet! I was so incentivized that I came back home and started going through even more jewelry, opening boxes and discovering sterling silver flatware STILL IN THE PLASTIC SLEEVES from almost 30 years ago – clearly that was not a high use priority – so I made another appointment and walked out with almost another $400! That was $800 I had lying around my house serving no purpose but to take up space. I still had costume jewelry (new in boxes) from a foray into selling costume jewelry a few years back, and because it was such nice costume jewelry, I didn’t want to throw it away! What I was unable to sell via Facebook, I donated as well to Suited For Change and received a tax donation receipt for it! Excellent!

What do you have lying around your house that you haven’t worn in decades? Or maybe you don’t look good in silver or gold anymore? Why not sell it for the price of the metal, especially when its value is so high. Take the money you make and get yourself something you need or want. Have costume jewelry, accessories, purses and such that you no longer want? Why not donate those (plus any nice work attire clothing) to Suited For Change?

Organizing, Time Management, Uncategorized

Time Keeps Ticking Tocking Away

Do you struggle with a poor sense of time? Are you often late for appointments, work? Are your kids late for school? This often occurs because of an inability to find what you need in the morning, distractions and sometimes not understanding just how long tasks REALLY take to complete.

Here are some tips to help you plan and schedule your time:

  1. Just like we do with our kids, we (adults) need to plan our morning out the NIGHT BEFORE. This will sound familiar if you have done this with your kids, but figure out what you’re going to wear the next day (I know this sounds really hard because you dress in the morning based on how you FEEL that day – bite the lip and try this technique before giving up). Gather your work items (briefcase, purse, bag, etc.) – put these by the door you will exit! Now do the same thing for your kids (clothes for next day, backpacks, shoes, items to take to school) and place those by the same door. We’re trying to help stop the morning madness!
  2. Hang your keys by the door you exit/use most often. If it’s the garage, then put up a key holder inside your house, next to the door to the garage. Multiple people using multiple sets of keys equals…yes you are right! Multiple hooks on the key holder! As for me, I prefer a small table also in this area to put stuff down on. Yes this can become the dumping ground, but in our prior home when we didn’t have one, everything was dropped right on the floor or onto the dining room table. Um, no. We currently don’t have a table near the door so items come into the kitchen. Our space in the entryway won’t accommodate the depth of a small table plus we have a large row of coat hooks / key hooks / purse hooks by the door. The counter is okay for this instance because the mail gets sorted through and purged into the recycling bin and lunch boxes live in the kitchen anyway. Phew! Moving on…
  3. Who likes to procrastinate doing the tough stuff? Yes, every human being raises their hand. Thank you. Here’s a simple but effective tip – schedule the tough stuff for early in the week – and when you are at your peak energy level – and see what happens! Believe it or not, once you get the tough tasks out-of-the-way, time is easier to manage. Otherwise that pink elephant is staring you in the face…everyday…all week long…ugh.
  4. Since errand running affects all of us (except those with personal assistants who run their errands for them and are named Kardashian, ahem), do you know realistically how long it takes you to run the errands? Try my tip – multiply by a factor of 3. If you live in the MetroDC area, anything can happen with traffic and what might be only 10 miles to run an errand may take you 30 minutes or more. (Note: if it’s rush hour in the MetroDC area, I increase my factor to 4). Yes this is my little secret…if I have to drive 10 miles, I calculate 30 minutes. If it’s rush hour, that becomes 40 minutes. Why is this errand running time understanding step important? Because we tend to not estimate enough time and external factors and then we over schedule and are constantly under pressure – maybe even yelling or honking horns at lights because we’re angry because we are late. Perhaps we made ourselves late by not fully grasping how long it takes to get from point A to point B? Hmm…that’s a thought.
  5. Hubs and I use a smart phone app for our shopping lists. I have a bazillion stores listed and we share just a few. We share lists for two grocery stores and three multipurpose stores (Target, Walmart and Walgreens). The app we use is called AnyList for iOS. I’m sure these apps exist for other types of phone operating systems as well. The cool thing is that NO LONGER are either of us out and about and decide to go by the store and realize we DON’T HAVE THE GROCERY LIST! Hate when that happens. Now we can add to the list on the fly (it updates immediately) and when either of us are in a store, we can purchase what’s on the list. The only thing remaining? Look at the lists. LOL.
  6. Do you have kids to keep track of schedules and messages? I’d recommend a family message center. White board or a chalkboard are fantastic for these areas. A family calendar is also a must since there are only so many adults who can drive the kids to all their after school activities. No, we are not cloned just because we are parents. Another idea is to set up Google calendar and husbands and wives can add their activities as well as their kids’ activities. That way everyone is on the same page when not at home looking at the calendar on the wall. (I’m all for technology if it provides a better solution!)
  7. Feeling overwhelmed at tasks to be done? Set a timer. I have used this technique a long time. If one of your family members struggles with ADD, then use 15 minute increments to focus on tasks. You don’t have to complete a large task in one sitting – done is better than perfect. Perhaps you need to just break up the task into chunks of time and put it on your calendar? I use this technique often – especially when performing home repair/remodeling tasks or yard work tasks. Why? Because I want to work on the task at my peak energy time and I know myself, if I’ve gone past a few hours, I’m going to not be as focused and will start making mistakes. To thine own self be true (and gentle!).
  8. Remember that if you are working on trivial tasks (oh, I need to print off those forms instead of writing a blog!), you are procrastinating my friend. We all do it. Usually it’s the tasks as mentioned in #3 above. Prioritize your tasks and work on the priorities first. Then reward yourself with a fun task!
  9. Lastly, and I learned this in pre-marriage counseling decades ago, usually in a relationship one person is the “tasker” and the other person is the “teamer”. What does this mean? That one person wants to do fun stuff and the other one wants to get things done! How do you overcome this “opposites attract” challenge? Ask the teamer to help you with a task (and yes, us “taskers” need to be specific in how long the task will take or be worked on), and that once the task is done, you will be glad to go “teaming”. Otherwise the tasker gets resentful and will not enjoy their time teaming, while the teamer doesn’t understand why the tasker is in a huff. Simple solution and works well if agreed upon by both people in the relationship. (Hey, this can also apply to kids).

Tick tock tick tock…let’s learn to make time our friend and not our enemy.

Estate Sale
Decluttering, Moving

To Have A Yard Sale Or To Have An Estate Sale? That is the question.

The Fall is another great time to have yard sales – selling those winter clothing items, holiday decorations, back to school items, and clearing out for the winter. Or are you getting ready to downsize your home and sell it? Wondering if you should instead have an estate sale? YES! There are two factors that determine whether to have a yard sale or an estate sale: are you staying in your property and just want to eliminate some clutter? Or are you downsizing and selling your home?

Staying in the Property:

If you are just de-cluttering, I recommend working with a professional organizer (like me 🙂 to assist you in sorting and purging of items. While we sort, we will identify items for donations and if you want to have a yard sale, we can also mark those items for selling at the yard sale.

Preparing for Resale/Downsizing:

For those who are downsizing and reselling their home, again I recommend working with a professional organizer (of course me!). One of the first things I ask is, “are there family members who would like any of the items in the home?” A lot of times people haven’t considered asking this question of their children, grandchildren, siblings. Please do so. You would be surprised how each person may have a memory of an item that they would love to continue to have by taking possession of that item. It’s a great way to pass on family memories. We can work together to create boxes of items to go to family members. Plus we will identify a date for them to have picked up their items. Once family has come and taken their items, then its time to start taking pictures and advertising items for an estate sale. I recommend an estate sale for downsizing because this is appropriate when more than 50% of items in a home are being sold.

Once you have had your estate sale, you can then utilize a yard sale for the items that didn’t sell (be sure that your contract with an estate sale firm states that items that do not sell remain YOUR PROPERTY and do not become property of the estate sale company). There are also online tools for helping sell items: Craigslist and Facebook online yard sale groups. After having your yard sale, whatever items remain should be donated. Remember the goal is to downsize!

Congratulations on downsizing or de-cluttering your home! Either process can be daunting, but working with a professional organizer can help speed up the process and keep you on track.

Recycling and deconstruction
Donations, Recycling

Help! What do I do with the leftover building materials from my contractors working on my home?

Have you taken on or had a contractor take on a project at your home and then have either removed or leftover building materials? Most major cities now have a place to donate “deconstructed” materials. (If you need to find a location, try google search for “deconstruction” or “deconstruction companies” and then contact the companies to find out where they take their deconstructed materials.)

In the MetroDC area, my favorite location is Rebuild Warehouse ( They opened on St. Patrick’s Day in 2009, right as I was beginning a major project at my home. I had seen fliers for the opening and went to visit them and was HOOKED! One of the founders, Paul, was a real sweetheart of a man and had this dream in his heart from having owned a deconstruction firm, that there was a missed opportunity to recycle materials from businesses and homeowners versus filling landfills. The other part of his dream was to use the funds raised to train workers in the deconstruction industry. Sadly Paul passed away unexpectedly but his wife and his business partner are continuing to keep Rebuild Warehouse going. They are located in an industrial park and currently are only open two days a week, unless an appointment is made. I have been an avid supporter of this business and thanks to their vision/dream, I was able to purchase materials to build 600SF, two level, geometric cut flagstone patio – with only $600 spent on the flagstones! Wow! (I reused pulled up brick for edging and for lining the second tiered patio). When I was done, what was valued at $25,000 by our insurance company for under $6,000 – and that included new siding for a shed, a new large gate installation, a smaller gate installation, grading the entire backyard, laying sod, plants and mulch. (Note to self: if you spend that much time, labor or money having an outdoor room built – aka a patio – you should get it covered under your insurance in case anything were to happen.)

I stopped by there last weekend since I had a few items (new in box) that I wasn’t able to sell on Craigslist of Facebook yard sale pages, so decided I would donate them (you get a tax donation form), and I stopped by one of my clients and took two sinks that had been removed during her current kitchen remodeling job. I picked up two bricks for $.25/each for a project at home – that a home improvement store or garden center would have charged more for each brick. They had a French door stainless steel refrigerator, plus an antique tiger oak wash cabinet, you know the one with the towel bar on the back side – even with dovetailed drawers – for $150.

Check out their website, plus their Facebook page and if you’re in the MetroDC area, stop by and see what goodies they might have for purchase or projects in your home.

home remodeling nightmare
Home Repair, Remodeling

I’m stuck in a home remodeling nightmare

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of working with a new client — not in the capacity of declutterologist, but in my role regarding my review and input for home projects.

Growing up, my parents had two HVAC companies and between the two endeavors, my Dad worked for an HVAC company (so did my brother for a little while). My Dad would take me along with him to pick up blueprints for HVAC installations and explain the blueprints to me and then take me to the job site and walk me through it explaining what utility or fixture or wall was going to be located.

As I got older, these site visits became quizzes to see if I could tell from just a framed out house how the final room layout would look and where plumbing, electricity and HVAC would run. No peaking at the blueprints.

When I entered my teens, my poor dad! I didn’t want to do that boring stuff anymore – I wanted him to take me shopping instead! LOL. Well, between him, my brother and my best friend’s boyfriend, instead of always shopping, I was taught how to work on cars. As my Dad said, “You never know if the people you are with would know what to do if you all got a flat tire or had mechanical problems. I want to make sure at least you know what you are doing.” Call me a tomboy. With growing up with my dad taking me fishing, hunting, to construction site visits, and now teaching me about car repairs, it’s no wonder I hated wearing dresses or heels when I was younger — I was such a tomboy!! (thanks Dad by the way 🙂

Back to the present, when my new client contacted me, she was in a panic. The contractor was not performing the duties of a general contractor and not communicating effectively with her. I met with her the next day and had the pleasure of meeting one of the contractor’s project managers – not impressed. Unfortunately there is always going to be a male/female issue when it comes to home improvement / construction skills. I don’t believe I will ever see that change in my lifetime; however, when I typed up for my client the work order list that the contractor SHOULD HAVE PROVIDED so that she could see all the tasks and how they related and be able to communicate with her contractor, that’s where the rubber hit the road and they found out that I may be a Fix It Diva, but I know my way around a remodeling job (and construction site, etc.). My client is in the last week or so of what has been for her and her family over 3 months of frustration. I’m grateful that she allowed me to intervene and help her get on the same communication page with her contractor. Now let’s see if they actually finish the job…stay tuned!

Change Agent

Hello, my name is Change Agent

Since I act as a “change agent” for some of my clients who are more chronically disorganized, this can be a scary time. Removing the clutter,  that may have served as a physical expression of an emotional wall or barrier, is a BIG CHANGE.

NOT putting the wall back up of “stuff” is even scarier. However, regret of things that a person wanted to do and didn’t do is even greater than facing the change.

Question for you: Are you regretting not being able to have friends or family over to your home because you’re embarrassed or ashamed of how your home looks? Let’s work together on being change agents so you can start living the life you want to! Regrets – be gone! Change – here we come!