The Road to Hell….

The road to hell…

We all know the phrase, ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions.’ I’d like to propose that we change that to ‘the road to clutter is paved with good intentions.’

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We all sometimes keep things with the best of intentions. This is especially true for those who are very conscious of our impact on the environment. It is also true for those who are creative and love crafting. But frequently, that leads to a clutter problem. A few examples:

  • D.B. hated the idea of throwing Styrofoam away, because it couldn’t be recycled. Deciding to keep it all until recycling technology changed, she eventually filled her garage with nothing but trash bags of used styrofoam containers. Her good intentions led to major marital stress and a pest problem.
  • B.M. loved any and all crafting supplies. But with a house full of children and a busy career outside the home, she had no time to spend on crafting. Her good intentions led to her family constantly having to walk around bins, boxes, and bags of every kind of crafting supply. This led to family discord and resentment.
  • G.P. loves to read and wanted to pass that love on to her kids. She filled the house with every book she could think of that they might enjoy and ‘need’ to read – until they spilled off the shelves and onto the floor in every room. Her good intentions-turned-clutter led also to resentment, marital strife, and discord within her family.

Are you sensing a theme yet? We all have good intentions, but without planning, they can turn into clutter and create disorder and discord.

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Do You Keep a first aid kit for your car?

Being organized includes being prepared for the unexpected. Most of us will head out on a road trip at some point this summer. One thing this professional organizer doesn’t leave home without? A first aid kit for your car.

You can put one together from supplies you have at home. Or you can do what I do and buy one. I actually use this Adventure Medical Kit that I bought at REI for hiking. It’s small, super lightweight, but comes with a ton of stuff. This one has everything from Band-Aids to basic medicines to splinter tweezers, and more. Can you believe all this stuff pictured fits into a waterproof pouch that weighs half an ounce?!

So, whether you’re heading to the beach, a sports tournament, or to visit family, don’t leave home with a first aid kit.

Note: If you already keep one in your car – bravo! Now go check the medicines in it to ensure none have expired!

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Do I Check My Phone Too Much?

Email. Texting. Facebook. We seem to live by our mobile devices now. There’s even talk (online, of course!) of a syndrome called FOMO – fear of missing out. That compulsion to check your phone every few minutes to make sure you haven’t missed something. Have YOU ever wondered ‘Do I check my phone too much?’

Over the weekend, I learned about a free app called Checky. And it does exactly that – it tracks how many times you check your phone throughout the day. So I downloaded it this morning. This could be scary!

Now, I will add some caveats. First, we don’t have a landline. Our cell phones are our only phones. Second, I use my cell phone both for personal use and to run a business. Still, I’m more than a bit nervous about what my Checky numbers will look like!

‘So, I check my phone a lot. Why are you, as a professional organizer, talking about it?’ Because it comes down to TIME and how we’re using it. Something that almost all of us feel pressed for, and the only thing we can’t make more of.

A 2014 study by Tekmark Study found that the average smartphone user picks up their phone 221 times per day. That’s over 1500 times every week!

Will you download an app like Checky and see how much time you spend checking your phone? Hit us back up, and let us know how you did!

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5 Things To Do Now To Make Back to School Easier

Sure, it’s late May, and most parents and kids are thrilled for school to be done! over! kaput! for another fun-filled summer. But August will come sooner than you think, and you’ll be racing around buying school supplies, clothes, and trying to get everyone into that school year routine once more. Here are my 5 top tips to make back to school easier – on everyone!

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Make Back To School Easier by…

Bedtime – Keep it Similar

Yes, the summer routine is more relaxed than the school year. That doesn’t mean we have to go hog wild. Make back to school easier by keeping your kids’ bedtimes within an hour of their school-year bedtime. This gives them more freedom. But it also almost completely eliminates the nightmare created when kids go from no bedtime to a rigid bedtime in just a week. This also gives you and your spouse more Couple Time, which is healthy for you AND your kids!

School Supplies

When your kids clean out their lockers, take a few minutes with them and take stock of what can be used next year. Can her backpack be used for another year? Gather up all the supplies she didn’t use and store those for August. You might be surprised by what you don’t have to buy again, come August!

School Clothes

This one is particularly for those of us who live in a warm climate. Here in Georgia, we start school in August – one of the hottest months of the year. I know the sales are tempting – I’ve fallen for it, too. By the time it was cool enough outside for her to wear them, guess what? She’d already outgrown them. OY.  That’s no bargain.

Vaccinations

First, know which ones are required. Then, do yourself a favor. Get them now. Or in June. Or early July! But don’t wait until a few weeks before the school year – you’ll have to fight for an appointment because everyone will have done the same thing – waited until the last minute. You’ll be stressed, your kiddos will be stressed, and nothing can get you sicker quicker than a crammed and busy pediatrician’s office.

Study Station

For most kids, having a designated Study Station is crucial for them to be able to concentrate on homework and studying for tests. If they don’t already have one, this is a great summer project. IKEA and Target both offer easy to assemble student desks. Set up the desk in a quiet, reasonably out-of-the-way area. Make sure there is good lighting and enough room for them to spread out and study in comfort. Doing this over the summer break ensures that your kids are prepped for success from Day One of the new school year.

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A bonus tip on making back to school easier? Really take an objective look at your family’s schedule and routine. If you feel you’re running around with your hair on fire, it’s likely your kiddos feel the same way. That doesn’t exactly set them up for success, right? There is NO judgement here. But I do think we tend to forget that a crazy and disorganized home life affects them just as much as it affects us. Summer is a great time to clear out the crazy, the unnecessary, and the clutter. To quote a client, “We need to make room for US, instead of our stuff.’ Well said.

What else can you think of to make back to school easier – on us and on our kiddos?

Behind the Scenes on ‘HOARDERS’

In 2012, I was lucky enough to be asked to work on two episodes of A&E’s Emmy-nominated show ‘HOARDERS’. I’m frequently asked about my experiences working on the show. Here are the questions I get asked most often. What it’s like behind the scenes on ‘HOARDERS’. (Disclaimer: I can only speak from MY experiences on the show. I only represent my viewpoint.)

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The organizing team for our Alabama HOARDERS episode. I’m second from left.

Question: Was it really as cluttered as we saw on TV?

Absolutely. Nothing was added to the home to make it appear worse, more cluttered, more dramatic, etc. What you see on screen is how it looked when we arrived.

Question: What were the clients like?

Both clients were, for the most part, warm, welcoming, and appreciative of our help. There was, understandably, some anxiety. Wouldn’t you feel anxious if 25 people, three trash trucks, and a full film crew showed up on your doorstep – invited or not?

Question: Was all the family drama real or created for better ratings?

This was actually one of the reasons I wanted to work on the show. I can only speak to my experiences on the two episodes I worked on. I can say that ALL of the family drama was real. Hoarding takes a heavy toll on all of the family members involved. There is almost always a traumatic event that triggers the disorder. Because of that, the client has to finally address the traumatic event. At no time did I ever feel the producers were trying to ‘stir up’ unnecessary drama for the cameras.

Question: What were the experts like?

I worked with both Dorothy Breininger and Cory Chalmers. To sum it up, I told both of them that I would work with them again for free. Both Dorothy and Cory are fabulous with the clients as well as the organizers and other crew. They both are very ‘real’ people and care deeply about their work with clients who hoard.

Question: How long did it really take to clear out the homes?

This is when it really gets real. For both episodes, you saw 15-20 minutes. In real life, that worked out to roughly 25 people, 10 hour shifts, for 3 days. That’s 750 working hours.

Question: Now that the show is back, would you work on it again?

Without a doubt! As organizers, we rarely get to work as part of a large team, so that was a blast. It was exhausting, physical work. It was also highly educational and rewarding to see the client make progress and to work with such a fantastic group of people.

And yes, HOARDERS is back! It airs tonight, 5/28 at 9p on Lifetime!

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Chattanooga Organizing Crew – Behind the Scenes on ‘HOARDERS’.

Resources For Families of Hoarders

This month, we’ve talked a bit about hoarding disorder – myths vs. reality. If you think you have a loved one who hoards, you know it’s very hard to start a discussion with that person. There is still a huge stigma around mental illness and there’s still a lot we don’t know about hoarding. We do know that people who hoard carry a huge level of shame about their problem and it greatly affects the entire family. Here are some resources for families of hoarders.

 

Hoarders.com and HoardingCleanup.com – Both of these companies are owned by Cory Chalmers, one of the experts you’ve likely seen if you’ve ever watched ‘Hoarders’ on A&E or Lifetime. I worked with Cory on an episode of Hoarders a few years ago. He is a warm, relaxed, and compassionate professional. I couldn’t recommend his companies highly enough.

ClutterCleaner is owned by Matt Paxton, also of ‘Hoarders’ fame. Matt is ‘what you see is what you get’, which I love. Funny, smart, and he cares deeply about the people he helps. ClutterCleaner’s website is also chockful of information about hoarding, including teleclasses on hoarding and helping loved ones who hoard.

Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) is a wonderful organization founded by Judith Kolberg, an trailblazer in hoarding work and research (and an all-around lovely human being). The ICD offers thorough information on hoarding, resources for families of hoarders, and educational resources for professionals, too.

Children of Hoarders offers a great variety of resources for families of hoarders, with education, support groups (in person and online) and a directory of therapists and psychologists who are trained in anxiety disorders, OCD, and hoarding.

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Hoarding Disorder ~ Myth vs. Reality

Today’s blogpost is all about hoarding disorder ~ myth vs. reality. According to a recent survey by Insure.com, 46% of adults say they know someone who hoards. 46%! While little is known about hoarding, we certainly know more than we did. Many hoarding experts say that, on average, there is at least one person struggling with hoarding in every US neighborhood. The reality is that you probably do know someone who struggles with hoarding.

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So, let’s play Myth vs Reality.

Myth: ‘Those hoarders’ are only found in low-income, blue collar neighborhoods. We could never have a neighbor here who hoards.

Reality: Hoarding does not discriminate by income.  There are people living in government housing who struggle with hoarding. There are people living in multi-million dollar homes with famous names who struggle with hoarding.

Myth: Those people aren’t sick, they’re just too lazy to clean up after themselves.

Reality: Most clients who struggle with hoarding would describe themselves as perfectionists. They are stuck between getting something done and getting something done perfectly. So, nothing ever gets done.

Myth: She’s so put together/smart/educated, etc, etc.! She couldn’t possibly be someone who hoards!

Reality: I know of teachers, retired nurses, psychologists, corporate executives, and prominent society ladies who have struggled with hoarding. You cannot tell from personal appearance, career success, etc if someone struggles with this disorder.

If you’d like to learn more about hoarding, the Institute for Challenging Disorganization is a fantastic source for learning more about hoarding. Their Clutter Hoarding Scale is used by professional organizers and mental health experts alike to determine the severity of the person’s hoarding. They also conduct teleclasses for the public to learn more.

 

 

30 Day Organizing Challenge ~ Total Recall

30 day organizing challenge

Whew! Another 30 Day Organizing Challenge is behind us! So, how did you do? Did you get all 30 done? Most? A few a week? Regardless of how many you managed to do, it was that many steps closer to a decluttered home – awesome!

30 day organizing challenge, organizing quick tips

If you missed a few and want to catch up, here are all 30 areas. Also, if you ever want to do this on your own timeframe, you can find these on the blog page. Just click on ’30 Day Challenge’ in the tag cloud. Happy decluttering!

Day 1 ~ Table Linens & Napkin Rings

Day 2 ~ First Aid Supplies

Day 3 ~ Candles

Day 4 ~ Towels & Sheets

Day 5 ~ Cell Phone Apps

Day 6 ~ Office Supplies

Day 7 ~ Body Products & Skincare

Day 8 ~ Laundry Supplies

Day 9 ~ Gardening Stuff

Day 10 ~ Baking Tools & Accessories

Day 11 ~ Coupons & Gift Cards

Day 12 ~ Stationery & Notecards

Day 13 ~ Old Cords & Cables

Day 14 ~ Loyalty Cards

Day 15 ~ Swim & Beach Stuff

Day 16 ~ Glove Compartment

Day 17 ~ Manuals & Warranties

Day 18 ~ Old Paint

Day 19 ~ Vitamins & Supplements

Day 20 ~ Software

Day 21 ~ Scarves, Gloves, & Hats

Day 22 ~ Kitchen Appliances

Day 23 ~ ‘Collectibles’

Day 24 ~ Emotional Clutter

Day 25 ~ PC Screen Desktop

Day 26 ~ Craft Supplies

Day 27 ~ Grudges

Day 28 ~ Beach Towels

Day 29 ~ Car Trunk

Day 30 ~ Unrealistic Expectations

30 Day Challenge: Day 30 ~ Unrealistic Expectations

Unrealistic expectations

One of the biggest misconceptions I come across in my work is unrealistic expectations, two in particular. One of the unrealistic expectations is that your home should always be perfectly clean, decorated, and organized – regardless of the two dogs and three kids! Some clients are shocked that I (a professional organizer!) have a junk drawer. Of course I do!

The point of having an organized home is not that your home will be perfect. It’s that you have systems in place, so when you go around and pick up things around the house, they have a home to go to! And that saves you time, money, and sanity.

The other of the unrealistic expectations is that you can clear years and years of clutter in just a few days. When I worked on episodes of ‘HOARDERS’ on A&E, here’s what you, as viewers, saw: a hugely cluttered house, completely cleared out in 3 days.

Here’s what you didn’t see: 12-15 trash hauler guys, 5 professional organizers, 1 psychiatrist, 3-4 junk trucks (each making several runs per day to the dump), and 14-hour work days. And generally, it was considered successful if we got more than 3 rooms cleared, y’all.

Lay down your expectations. It’s just another kind of emotional clutter. Your home didn’t get disorganized and cluttered in a day or a week. It won’t get disorganized and decluttered in a day or a week. If you’re DIYing, take it slow and set small goals. If you’ve tried DIYing it and it just isn’t working, consider investing in hiring a professional organizer. Either way, be kind to yourself.

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Organizing Car Trunk ~ 30 Day Challenge: Day 29

Organizing car trunk

Hopefully, your car trunk doesn’t look like this one. It probably does have some level of clutter. Sports gear, emergency supplies, reusable grocery bags, you know what I’m talking about. Take a few minutes today to assess what you keep back there and start organizing car trunk. The less cluttered it is, the more easily you can grab what you need. The less cluttered it is, the less weight your car has to carry. This results in better gas mileage!

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