Let a Personal Organizer help you with systems and schedules for family chores, laundry, errands, cooking, grocery lists, bill paying, children’s homework and activities, and more.
Coaching & Goal Setting
Let a Personal Organizer help you clarify your goals and develop a plan for achieving them! This service is ideal for those people who may not want hands-on services all the time, but feel they could benefit from consultations, email, or telephone support.
Let a Personal Organizer help you create a realistic schedule to meet your responsibilities, while keeping time for what you value most.
How would we work together?
Sometimes we become so busy, with a schedule packed with work and social commitments, plus our children’s activities, that the day feels overly full and hectic. We can work together to evaluate which activities should stay, and perhaps find some that can go, allowing for an easier flow of time in the day. We can also strategize about how best to set up your schedule to allow for downtime, family meals, homework time, and so on, while still making room for those activities and commitments that are most valued by your family.
The beginning and ending to each day sets the tone for everything in between. How does a typical morning look in your home? Does everyone know where their backpack and lunch is? Can everyone be ready with what they need for the day without a mad scramble to get out the door? We can create systems, and simplify the morning routine to allow for a less stressful and more organized launch into the day for the entire family.
Similarly, when everyone comes back together at the end of the day, is there a plan for dinner? Is there time always set aside for essential activities like homework, downtime, and planning for the following day? If not, the evening can be rushed and stressful, rather than a relaxed unwinding and family time. We can work together to create a routine and flow to the day that reduces the stress and last-minute rushing that can otherwise derail you.
A note about special populations: If someone in your family has a learning, attention, or sensory challenge, or has been diagnosed with behavioral problems, simplifying both the home environment and routine can be instrumental in their ability to function well. Call me today to discuss your personal situation and see if Serene Spaces is the right fit for your needs.
How difficult it is to be simple.
Clutter is just a deferred decision. Start making decisions in the moment. The next time that you pick something up, think about if you need or want it, if it works, and where it should live. Then follow through immediately. Over time, this will become a habit.
Make a conscious decision about how much space to allocate for any one thing. For example, decide how many bookshelves you have room for, and then keep only the books that will fit. This approach is opposite to what most people do. I’ve filled up all my bookshelves. I guess I need to buy another one.” Doing so can quickly overwhelm your space. Be honest about how much space you have to spend and you will keep your clutter to a minimum.
Give gifts that don’t add to anyone’s clutter. Consumable gifts, like homemade goodies, teas, and coffees, are always nice. Experiences, like tickets to a play or concert, or babysitting coupons for people with young children, are also appreciated. That way, your gift will result in a fond memory, not just another thing to dust.
We often punish ourselves for our clutter by creating a lot of not allowed hobbies: not being allowed to go to the mall, yard sales, etc. Instead of taking away things you like, try adding new hobbies or activities that won’t increase your clutter. For example, taking a walk, meeting a friend for lunch, having a massage, or relaxing at Starbuck’s with a good book are all treats you can give yourself without bringing more junk home with you.
Keep linens in the room where you use them, rather than in the hall closet. Each room should only have 2-3 sets of sheets. Keep a box labeled linens in each closet to hold them. No more searching for linens for the beds!
Kids schoolwork and art projects can quickly take over your home. To control the paper, buy a large plastic bin for each child and limit the collection to only what will fit. As the bin gets full, you (or your child) will have to make some choices about what to keep. Remember, the idea is to have some memories of this time in their lives. A selection of papers is just as effective as having everything. Plus, you will be instilling good stuff-management skills in your children!
Be careful not to undermine your own decluttering goals by trying to do too much all at once. Instead, choose one daily habit that you would like to develop and practice it EACH DAY for a month. Write a reminder in your planner or calendar, post a note to yourself on the refrigerator or bathroom mirror; whatever will help you remember your task daily. After a month, reward yourself with something nice (NOT clutter!). One new habit each month equals twelve new habits in a year. That’s quite a year!
To cut down on the amount of mail, and time spent paying bills, consider signing up for automatic payments. Many banks offer automatic, recurring payments that you can manage online. Most utilities and other services will either set up a direct debit to your bank account or a direct charge to a credit card. Your bill or statement should list information about signing up for these services. Either way, you will receive fewer bills in the mail, and you won’t accidentally pay anything late.
Get kids involved in daily clean-up. Each evening, set a timer for 5 minutes. Everyone picks up as much as they can in that time. A job well done earns a star, and a week of stars earns a treat!
Invest in a scanner. Scan documents that you need to keep rather than holding onto so much paper.
If your closet is packed, but you can’t decide what to get rid of, try arranging your clothes by color. Items that don’t match anything else will immediately stand out. Get rid of them! Now that your clothing is grouped by color, it will also be much faster to locate items that go together, making getting dressed in the morning a snap.
Remember: it takes 3 or 4 weeks to develop a new habit. When you commit to getting organized in one area of your life (the mail, the laundry, etc.), give yourself time to get used to the new routine. It’s normal for it to seem new and strange for some time. Keep at it, though. Over time, it will become a natural part of your daily life.
Have a dish rack for drying dishes. Many people have done away with these now that they have dishwashers. There are always some dishes to wash by hand, though. Without a specific place to put them, your counter and sink quickly become cluttered.
When making your New Year’s resolutions, pick something small to change every day rather than a vague and huge goal. For example, rather than saying, I am going to declutter my entire house this year, make the decision to spend 10 minutes each day decluttering a specific area, to read your mail each day, or to put your dishes directly in the dishwasher. You are more likely to follow through on a smaller and clearer goal, and over time you will see big results.
If you find that you have a hard time throwing things away (even things you know you don’t really need), try boxing up the items you are stuck on and dating the box for 6 months from now. If that date comes and you can’t name the items in the box, toss it!
Put a shoe rack in your hall closet. It will keep the floor of your closet neat, reduce the amount of dirt tracked through your house, and free up space in your bedroom closet.
Newspapers are meant to tell you about CURRENT events. If it is more than a week old, it is not current. Recycle it!
Sort by outfits
Put your children’s clothes away in outfits, rather than shirts in one drawer and pants in another. Now, even young kids can dress themselves!
Holiday decorations can take up a lot of storage space. Make a date with yourself to go through your decorations, keeping only those that you really use and love. Pack decorations into large plastic tubs by season (one tub for spring, Easter, etc., one for fall, harvest, and Halloween, and so on) and label them. Only one tub per season! Now you’ll have a manageable amount of decor, and you’ll know right where to find things.
Clean and Clear
Decide to keep the largest object in each room clean and clear. For example, make sure the bed is made each day and keep the dining room table free of clutter. Because of their size, these objects grab the attention of anyone walking into the room. Keeping them clutter-free will help create the illusion of organization until you can tackle the piles hiding in the corners.
Reduce the amount of junk mail coming into your home. Write to the Mail Preference Service, P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008, and request that your name not be sold to any mailing list companies. This won’t entirely stop the junk mail, but it’s a great start.
Place a wastebasket or recycling bin next to your front door. Immediately throw away junk mail, catalogs, etc. This will dramatically cut down on the mail you need to sort through.
No more catalogs
Reduce your clutter, and help your bank account, by throwing out ALL catalogs for a month. If you absolutely can’t part with them, rip off the cover to remind you of the store or website, and throw out the rest of the catalog. Create one file to house all the catalog covers.
Keep as many appliances off of your counter as possible. Only things used multiple times EACH WEEK should be out.
Having some support can be incredibly valuable when you are trying to tackle your clutter. Consider enlisting a friend who also struggles with organization. Take turns going to each other’s homes to help sort and dispose of items. Don’t know anyone like that? Try posting a notice on community bulletin boards, at your place of worship, or at work.
Walk around your house imagining that you are house hunting. What would you change? What would you get rid of? Sometimes we get so attached to the things that we need to find a way to look at them with fresh eyes, with objectivity. Now start making the changes you envisioned!
Clutter isn’t just about stuff. You can have clutter in your schedule, your finances, or your relationships. Pick an area that seems ripe for reflection and spend a few moments sitting quietly and thinking. What do you spend time on that you don’t enjoy, doesn’t fulfill you, or is taking up time you would rather spend elsewhere? Ask similar questions about money and relationships. Now commit to changing one thing that you became aware of. Time to renew, recharge, and declutter your life!
Looking for a simple way to keep your gift wrap neat and organized? Use a basic, plastic rectangular trash can. You can stand up rolls of wrapping paper, and fold gift bags to sit right next to the rolls. For smaller items like bows, ribbon, scissors, and tape, buy a couple of lingerie laundry bags. These are mesh, see-through bags normally used to wash nylons and hand-washable items, found at any Target or Container Store. They work great to hold wrapping odds and ends, and can sit right on top of the trash can.
Get kids into the habit of decluttering early. After they have received some new things: after a birthday, holiday, or start of a school year — help them get rid of some old items they no longer use. Together, choose a charity to donate the items to, or have a small yard sale and give your children the profits.
A great way to reduce your clutter (and save your bank account) is to reduce impulse buying. When you see something that you want, put an x” one week ahead on your calendar. If that date arrives and you can remember what it was you wanted, and you still want it, consider returning to the store. You will be amazed at how often you won’t remember what the “x” is for!”
Many people store their shoes in shoeboxes. Take photos of each shoe and attach to the end of the box. Now you can easily see what is in each box, and you don’t have to invest in expensive clear plastic shoe storage boxes. No more guessing which box you are looking for! No more pulling multiple boxes down!
Rather than being swamped with cooking for the holidays, prepare as much as you can ahead of time. Pies will keep nicely for a couple of days. Sweet potato and squash dishes freeze well. Even stuffing and mashed potatoes can be made earlier in the day, and then simply reheated in the oven. This will help you avoid the chaos of trying to finish many dishes all at the last minute. Instead, relax and enjoy your family and friends.