She called me from west Texas distressed at the appearance of her first home. Granted it was temporary-for as long as she was at school- but a first all the same. She was nervous about her parents coming to visit for the first time and she had no idea how to make it look like it ought to look. We first organized the kitchen because she felt her mom would be most distraught at its condition. We then moved on to her bedroom where she needed to make both a study and sleep area coexist. With her phone's camera pointed at the various target areas we "met" for virtual organizing a few sessions until she felt it was in her grasp to present a decent living space to her family. Having moved many times, I sometimes forget how hard it is setting up a home for some people. She had been busy preparing for her post-college life in academics and military life. She had not been focused on the fine art of living space creation. She was so relieved to find it didn't take forever, in fact it went quickly, as she picked up new skills doing all the physical part herself.
Do you know someone just starting out? Call to make an appointment at 207-613-5375!
Virtual Organizing: How it Works
Maybe you're expecting a move. Maybe you finally want to declutter your junk room to make it into an office. Maybe you need help moving the kids' stuff to the attic and storing it in an organized manner. Maybe you need to get organized for a new baby or pet of senior member of your family. Maybe you need help sorting the paperwork crowding your desk.
If you are handy with Internet video platforms we simply connect on an agreed day, you point the device camera at the location you want to work on and I can see the work space in my monitor. You will see my face in your monitor and hear my voice walking you through the organizing process. If you aren't navy with the computer we can work over the phone.
This form of organizing is great for those who have a tighter budget, a complicated schedule, are far away from any local professional organizer or prefer more privacy.
The following is an inquiry from a distraught individual seeking help from a professional organizer.
“I am a horder... not TLC level..but I want to have a peaceful living space for my partner... And I would like to be able to have people over. I have tried to do this on my own for years but have struggled with letting go of stuff. The hording started after my Grandmother's death. I think that's mostly it. Thanks, Susan--"
Call a professional to educate yourself about what they know about the difficulites of managing things many people have.
It's been some time since I made this talk at a local church but I revisit it because I never used to think talking about organizing helped anyone. Many of my clients had a whole bookshelf of organizing books but still found themselves lost. But I recently joined a FaceBook group called AdviceforClutterbugs which has about 96K members. After asking the "group" if the page inspired them to organize their homes many said it had started them off on the whole house and that the group provided valuable support for their organizing challenges. I guess people really do get inspiration to act based on FB Groups and church talks as well.Do you have a group that would benefit from an organizing presentation? Call to make an appointment at 207-613-5375!
Make Time for Play
Having all the trappings ready, Grampy's mom gave him time to play. It was a big old farm house but to go with that was a lot of farmhouse stuff. Matching clean socks and a hat to boot make the home front well-managed.
Do you need help getting your play time? Call to make an appointment at 207-613-5375!
AARP Free Shredding
AARP is occasionally on location to shred all the bags sensitive information you have to bring after organizing. If you have checked the cost of shredding you will know what a community service this is!
Do you have some old files that need shredding? Call to make an appointment at 207-613-5375!
Decade File System Overhaul
"Life gets in the way", they say, and this fact influences how often files get their needed attention. This file system is the life paper of a single man. Having owned a couple of houses in a couple of states and being middle-aged, he had plenty of paperwork to keep track of. I met this system in 2008 when I rescued it from virtual nonexistence and then again in 2019 to accommodate all that had happened in one year.
Removing each paper, one by one, and categorizing it when placing down on the other side in the sorting area, I emptied the drawers.
I set to donate all the colored folders and tabs because the tabs are hard to see what label is inside and the client is not organized enough to deal with colored files. At the time of the first organization the colored files were all that were available for the job but the second go around standard green hanging files and three cut manilla interior folders were available. I organized the old (more than two years) paid bills into categories so it would be easier for the client to review them for shredding. After reviewing all the papers I had a pile of papers to ask the client about as I was unsure of where they belonged in the system. I replaced the categories of paper back in the file drawers using the new hanging files and folders lining up the tabs on the right hand side so as the system gains or loses more categories they are easier to line up with the rest and the eye has only one line to scan for the subject they are seeking. A label maker would make the labels more easily read but at this time one was not available and if you make organizing too difficult due to a desire for perfection it never gets done and remains in the growing pile of good intentions. If the client personally reviews all interior filed papers then the work of weeding is fully done but if s/he does not have time this is a good first step to taming the paper tiger.
Are your files needing attention? Give us a call to help you get them in shape at 207-613-5375!
Updated: Feb 17
Those of us who count as professional organizers know well the resulting stressors of disorganization. Some are calling asking to help their partner become more in tune with the household needs in regards to keeping possessions in check. Some partners buy too much not only depleting the bank account but also crowding the space meant to be for repose from the wild world we live in collecting 2-3 of everything they encounter. Some can't stop picking up roadside "treasures" which become burdens on their partners. Many know they have a problem but, because the problem of too much stuff is relatively new to the middle-aged population, have not heard there is probably a good chance it could be remedied. Call for help: 207-613-5375
Personal Care Products
I love personal care products as much as anyone and we all know how common it is to receive them as gifts. Inevitably there comes a day when the in-home storage for them needs a review. Danielle became interested in my organizing services while helping me improve my marketing in a few different platforms. Storage for personal care products was on her list to downsize. First we emptied the closet space where they were stored one by one naming each item category and placing it in a temporary area for that category as we identified each piece methodically.
Various categories for her products included: spa, teeth, hair, nails, perfume, skin in addition to her medicines and laundry which shared the space. After the whole closet was emptied and everything was categorized she purged each category so that most were shrunk by a quarter in size.
While sorting she related that much of the lot was either given to her by her family or sent via a subscription service. I suggested she lay down the law as far as gifts were concerned by requesting friends and family give non cluttering items for special days and holidays. The look on her face when she related her subscriptions to personal care product mailing services told me she already learned that it was not the best way to stay lean in storage.
After sorting and purging we explored her home for containers that would fit the new size of each category. I suggested she could visit the Container Store or The Dollar Store to shop containers that are uniform in appearance just to make the glance into the closet a bit easier on the eyes but for the time being it was already such a relief to have fully reviewed the contents to match with her current needs.
Need an extra pair of hands getting the bathroom closet under control? Call to make an appointment at 207-613-5375!
Getting Organized for Tax Time
Sometimes life gets away from you. At first things were going along smoothly and then a dramatic event disrupts the normal flow. One client had been caring for her husband who was terminally ill for two years and then moved!. It was about a year later she found me and requested assistance with getting her home under control. Because she had no structure for her paperwork she would simply pile all paper, mail, bills, magazines, etc on top of each other in a bin or basket. She would buy new bins and baskets regularly but could never seem to tame the tiger. After setting up a filing system that had a place for all the different categories of paper that she decided to save she was able to find her required tax documents so that she file the past two years' taxes that she had missed due to her hectic life. The following tax year was also submitted on time.Do you have some taxes to file? Call to make an appointment at 207-613-5375!
State Unclaimed Property: $9,000!
Today I finally got my session for which I’ve been waiting. As a courtesy to my clients I always search the Unclaimed Property websites for all the states they lived in. I found my mom $400 but most other wins were minor. https://maineunclaimedproperty.gov
How much do you have hidden in the state treasury?
While burried in bins of miscellaneous collected paper my client announced she was ready to do the search that I had told her was paramount to do ASAP about a year ago. I told her I had searched her name and found many entries and more importantly one entry that listed it was worth over a thousand dollars.
She sat down and entered all the requested information to verify to the computer she was who she said she was. Upon hitting the last “Next” button the screen lit up $8,000! I promptly shouted for joy and gave her a high five. I congratulated her on her efforts to follow through with my suggestion after all that time. She was still in disbelief and as if waiting for the other shoe to drop remarked that nothing could be this simple with the state.
But there it was in her email from the state an e-mail telling her all she had to do was to take the attached form to a notary and send it back to them.
Upon finishing that transaction there were about a hundred more entries with her name of over $25. She sped through the steps she had just learned and established her next batch of properties. I had to contain myself from encouraging her to go to the notary that very day because I feared like so many times before the paper would wander into a forest of piles and not resurface until years go by. But she had a point; might as well wait for the form for the second batch and do them all at once.
Do you have have hidden treasures buried in your office but you’re too overwhelmed to start? Let me know you need help by contacting me at 207-613-5375 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Eleven Pitfalls of DIY Organizers
It's hard enough to get the time to set aside to organize. That's why when one or a number of the following pitfalls happen to a novice it's easy to veer off course from the goal of an organized house.
Here are some things to avoid when trying to DIY Organize
1. Picking up more than one item at a time to decide upon. This is the beginning of getting overwhelmed.
2. Picking up the first item and putting it back down without naming its category in your home.
3. Picking up the first item and naming it but not making a decision on it; if it's needed or loved or if it needs to be donated.
4. Getting sidetracked. It's very easy to get pulled into another area of the house than what you mean to organize. When you find an object where you are currently organizing (bath closet for example) that belongs in another room of the house put it by the door but don't go to the area with these things where they belong until the end of reviewing all items in the selected space (bath closet). Otherwise this is another quick road to getting overwhelmed.
5. Neglecting to call the professional organizer to help because you don't have time to "pick up" before s/he comes.
6. Buying containers first. Always wait until all items have been reviewed in the chosen area before buying containers because you might opt to donate half the category and thus need a different size bin. Or better yet you might find a suitable container in your house already after purging.
7. Believing that a container will solve your problems.
8. Putting requirements about asking family or friends if they want the item before donating it. You'd be surprised how many times the organizing ends waiting for them to come look to see if they want it. You're best to take A hard look and take it straight to donate unless you remember a specific need one of them had which you can fill.
9. Not donating something because it was given to you by someone special. Let someone else enjoy it for what it is!
10. Not letting something go because it was so expensive. With all the selling venues such as FaceBook Marketplace there are lots of opportunities to get a return on your things. But don't let that stop the processing of it. If you cannot get what you want donate it to a cause you care about locally and maybe at tax time it will be useful depending on the current tax laws.
11. Not donating something because you might use it “someday”. This requires a lot of mindful balance. It's ok to do this if the things are not impinging on your home functioning or relaxation level but most of the time it costs you more in inconvenience of storing it.
Are you overwhelmed trying to DIY organize? It's ok! I can help. Send me an email at email@example.com and we‘ll make a time to get you straightened out!
Completely Unpacked in Three Days
This family in Camden, Maine was lucky to have a very organized mom but she had higher expectations too. She wanted a four-member family to be completely set up in three days after a cross country move. Working as a team will get you settled sooner so you can move on with the usual activities of daily life.
Are you expecting to move and like the idea of bringing on an extra pair of hands? Don't fret! I can help.
Clients often start out asking if they should get some containers before we start organizing work. Here is the yield of containers already on hand once the first step of weeding had finished with one client. Systemize with what you have first and the left-over containers will help you get organized.
Need some help finding those buried containers? Call to make an appointment at 207-613-5375!
It Takes a Village
It is rare I get called to help a family and learn nothing about their personal lives. The things of our world are all tied to some meaning tied to the current day, past or future.
We all relate to our things and spaces differently. One of us is tidy and the other is a clutter bug. One person needs their things viewable at a glance while others prefer to lock it behind closed doors. Something special to one person means nothing to another and boundaries are crossed.
It's no wonder to me that people who don't happen to have great organizing skills get easily lost in their things. We are pulled in so many directions that if it's a weak spot in someone's life it will compound itself without attention. Unfortunately that often leads to shame. Many people don't know that home organizing is a "thing". They don't know that on the other side of town someone's cluttered home is being made calm and productive again with the help of a professional organizer. Not knowing that others are tapping into this opportunity they spiral downwards in the murky waters of a mess where they are suppose to seek solace to recharge for the word again. Sometimes a partner brings in the organizer for the other partner without their asking for one. You can imagine how delicate one must tread when a home altering element is being welcomed by one member of the family and feared by another. I know that there is no reason to have shame of a cluttered home but most take on the feelings anyway.
Juggling all this makes professional organizing a dynamic career encompassing many things never expected at the onset. That's why I liked the below comic by Kelly Kamouski who makes custom comics.
Tydying the "Junk Drawer"
"Sometimes all you need is someone else there holding your hand," the most recent virtual organizing client remarked,
"For the four years we have lived here I have never cleaned out that drawer."
Sometimes it is all that is needed; is another's presence. Sure I chimed in with various possible places odd items could be moved in the house and comforted her by noting I have seen far worse but in the end the only reason she got to it was because she carved out the time in her hectic schedule to connect with me via FB VideoChat. It took an hour including some other odds n ends along the way.
Are you ready to tackle the office drawers? Call to make an appointment at 207-613-5375!
I met one family that tried the saturation system: having so many of a thing everywhere that chances are one would be right at their side when needed. Beside each landline phone in the house was a different contact book. Some had one contact while the other book had an expired version of the same contact.
So began the three phone shuffle in search of the correct number. This particular client had eyes that were not meant for small lettering so I rewrote all the up-to-date contact information in one book for home and one book in case of needing them on the road. Both had bigger spaces in which to enter all the information for ease of sight.
Want to get your contacts organized? Call to make an appointment at 207-613-5375!
Here is one floor plan I used to help a man move from one apartment to another that had more services to offer. He had quita a bit of organizing to do before we started to plan out what would go where. One family member came to pick up the family grandfather clock he could not take and he let alot go to donation centers to be able to fit into the new smaller unit but I think he enjoys the breakfasts served at the new place with other residents to engage with.
A packed closet can be overwhelming to tackle come time to sell the home. If you allow an organizer to do the first half of the work by presorting tackling clothing in categories will be a breeze.
Do you have a walk-in that needs some taming? Call to make an appointment at 207-613-5375!
On occasion a church has a generous patron interested to organize the archives. Such was the case when a long-time client who was also a member of this church decided to share my time with her for improvement at the church.
Does your organization need some help? Call to make an appointment at 207-613-5375!
Dig Out the Blender
If you are going to have appliances don't pack them away for space sake. Use them or lose them. Lucky you if you have enough counter space in your kitchen to hold all the ones you'd like to use weekly! Then you don't have to spend the day organizing just to get it out to use.
Need to get your kitchen more serviceable? Call to make an appointment at 207-613-5375!
Sometimes I stumble upon evidence of a very organized handyman when the tools are off the bench and secured off shelves as well.
Need some help getting the tool shed in order? Call to make an appointment at 207-613-5375!
At a Glance
Everything at a glance. OfficeSupplies organized so that each item can be retrieved without lifting anything else.
Do your drawers need some sorting? Call to make an appointment at 207-613-5375!
Love to collect antiques? Why not organize them out of their boxes and display them proudly on the walls. Conversation starters, history reviews, curiosity all earning their keep in the home.
Do you have a collection that deserves to be seen? Call to make an appointment at 207-613-5375!
So many people have started to prosper from the changes in market climate. When you have an AirBnB to manage you want to make an inventory list at opening so that it is easier for a cleaning person to check it's all there and nothing or something needs replacing. Organizing the moneymaker.
Could you use some help getting the rental in order before the next guest? Call to make an appointment at 207-613-5375!
Prepare to Sell
Sometimes I get a home stocked with fifty years of belongings to triage without the original owner present. As I go through the home I often find things I can use to stage the house for sale. It adds charm without cost for a stager by paying the organizer.
Can you use some help getting your home on the market? Call to make an appointment at 207-613-5375!
Organizing the Estate
Once the decision has been made to sell the home one has to deal with the age-old collections. If you're really organized you can inventory the entire contents and in this way plan better where or to whom these things should go.
Need some help with a big job? Call to make an appointment at 207-613-5375!
A Senior's Closet
When my grandmother got up in years she seemed to stop pairing her clothes. I asked her if I could organize some outfits in one of her closets to try making getting dressed easier.
Do you have a special senior in your life who could use some organizing support? Call to make an appointment at 207-613-5375!
To organize this area which included mostly makeup we simply puled down the nail polish so that it was below eye level and each one could be seen at a glance. We did the same for the eye-shadow. The result was more room above so all the contents could be seen at a glance without having to move anything.
Been wanting to get the bathroom storage in order? Call to make an appointment at 207-613-5375!