When I first set foot in in this Montauk playroom, I almost missed the view of the ocean. Although the room boasted ample storage for the family’s four children, it was drowning in toys. The perimeter of the room was lined with bins. Deep storage areas filled one wall, flanked on either side with bookshelves that were half styled and half filled with junk. A comfy couch in the middle of the room faced both the television and the ocean outside.
The organization of this playroom was simple, and the cause of the clutter was a common one. The existing storage was filled with toys the children had outgrown, so toys they regularly used were relegated to counters and storage bins that kept multiplying.
Using my FOUR STEP METHOD, the playroom was restored to order in just a few hours.
I PURGED the toys that hadn’t been touched in months, if not years by first emptying every bin and storage area. Working with the client, we discarded or donated the contents as appropriate. Once the purge was complete, I sorted toys by type and category.
As we endure the 7th week of sheltering at home, many of us have become pyschologically fatigued. In order to remain productive and upbeat, check out my 5 tips for staying productive while staying at home.
1. Make your bed. As Charles Duhigg notes in his book The Power of Habit, “making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity [and] a greater sense of well being…” Completing one small task paves the way for larger accomplishments during the day.
How much is too much? What is the “right” amount of something to have? As an organizer, these are questions I’m frequently asked, and the answer is different for every situation. It depends on three factors:
How much space do you have?
How much money do you want to spend?
What do you realistically use?
I recently found a stockpile of brand new socks that my husband, Jeff, had stored between two stacks of sweatshirts. I was horrified. And, when I opened his sock drawer to put them away properly, I was even more horrified. There were piles and piles of socks… So, I asked Jeff to explain. Here’s how our conversation went:
Our featured client this month is Samantha, the mother of three young children and the matriarch of a large extended family. This hostess extraordinaire often cooks for 30 family members and friends to celebrate Shabbat each weekend. In addition, Samantha maintains toys for every possible age group to ensure that even the youngest guest has appropriate entertainment. Over time, though, her home has become the self declared “weigh station” for toys, clothing, books, cookware, and furniture for relatives and friends with younger children, ones who have yet to have children, and even those who are not yet married.
Like many women who hire us, Samantha’s organizational skills are the envy of her friends (“why do you need an organizer,” is a popular refrain she hears). Yet, Samantha felt that she needed expert advise in how to streamline her life to entertain and function at a higher level. She knew it was time to take back her home – it could no longer be a proverbial ‘candy store’ for children and adults alike – and she needed our help.
In 2016, my friend and colleague, Nancy Lascher, became involved with Beautycounter, and I learned a startling fact: the United States is one of the few countries that doesn’t regulate the ingredients in skin care products, and Beautycounter is one of the few companies committed to making skin care products without any harmful ingredients.
As a professional organizer, I never paid much attention to the composition of the products I used to contain and corral my clients’ clutter. Yet, the cancer diagnoses of several friends and clients over the past two years has led me to take a closer look. This week, I cohosted an event with Lara Metz about healthy snacks and food storage containers.
While I don’t profess to being an expert on the chemical composition of organizing products, one of my team members (and cancer surviver), compiled this summary of chemicals to avoid in food storage containers and a list of some recommended products. As we learn more, this list will evolve, and we encourage you to share what you know, so we can provide the most up to date information.
Avoid the following chemicals in food storage containers:
BPA – Bisphenol A Plastic
– Increased risk of cancer
– Sexual and reproductive issues
– ADHD and other developmental disorders
– Endocrine disruption
Every year, so many of my friends and clients vow that this will be the year they get organized. And, despite the best of intentions, organization often falls by the wayside. So, instead of resolutions that are so ambitious or broad that they’re destined to disappoint, here are five simple behavioral changes you can implement to help you stay organized in 2018.
Tackle the Tough Task: Do what you dread most first—the rest of the day will run more smoothly without that dreaded task hanging over your head.
Stick to a Routine: Get in the habit of doing things the same way every time—if you always put your cell phone in the same pocket of your handbag, you won’t be scrambling to find it each time it rings.
Fight the Onslaught of Paper: Discard all catalogs, solicitations and advertisements you get in the mail immediately. Personal correspondence, bills and necessary financial documents should all go in an in-box and then addressed weekly.
Declutter Your Digital Space: In your downtime (waiting on line, waiting on hold), unsubscribe from all of your digital junk mail. Create an online filing system, so you have a place to put emails other than leaving them in your inbox.
Minimize Stress by Being Prepared: At the end of each workday, make a to-do list for the next day. Knowing what’s ahead of you will let you unwind in the evening and start the next morning in an organized way.
In the 22 years that I’ve been married, my husband has given me many gifts. While I certainly love getting the occasional extravagant gift, the one I appreciated most was definitely the least expensive and possibly the most boring. It was a stationery embosser with beautiful paper. Romantic? No. Practical? Yes. Do I still have it 15 years later? Yes.
Selecting the perfect gift can be highly stressful; there’s the discomfort over what to buy, how much to spend, and whether the gift will be appreciated. Recent research out of Indiana University Kelley School of Business and the Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business suggests that while “givers are drawn toward surprising or entertaining gifts that are fun in the moment of exchange…they underestimate how much people typically appreciate practical gifts.” If you want to be sure that your gift is one that “keeps on giving,” try these helpful hints.
When my twins were born 17 years ago, we received not one, but two decorative, monogrammed seesaws…from one store. It’s difficult to imagine that the store wouldn’t have told the second person ordering this “gift” with the same names and delivery address to select something else, but that’s another story. Suffice it to say that I was stuck with two seesaws that were, in my practical mind, a waste of space and a silly gift. So, I did what any self-respecting professional organizer would do and put them both out on the curb the next morning.
Although this can be difficult for some people, never feel compelled to keep a gift you don’t like. It will end up taking up space in your home and your psyche for what is often literally years. To avoid this, consider these tips
The time between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve can be the most festive, but also the most stressful time of the year. Between holiday parties, work events, shopping for gifts, eating too much and spending too much, sometimes we wish we could skip the entire season. But since that’s not an option, here are some guidelines to help you feel more in control this holiday season.
Say no. You don’t need to attend every party to which you’re invited. If you don’t go, you don’t need to find a babysitter, pay a babysitter, find something to wear, or purchase a hostess gift. Think of all the time you save.
Buy multiples of the same gift for as many people on your list as possible.
Have hostess gifts on hand. Whether it’s a bottle of wine, a candle, or chocolate, prepare in advance.
Purge your playroom. You have more leverage now than at any other time during the year. Tell your children you can’t buy them any new toys if there’s no space on those playroom shelves. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to donate what your children truly don’t use.
Get gift cards in a variety of dollar amounts. These take up almost no space, and are great for when you forgot about a last minute gift you might need.
Plan a go to outfit that you can wear to multiple parties. A simple black dress and a pair of black slacks and heels can take you through a variety of parties from business casual to more formal.
Breathe deeply and engage in some form of mindfulness each day.
Over the past few months, I’ve had a number of clients ask me for help organizing storage units. Some clients have multiple storage units and some have just one. In some cases, the storage units are complimentary perks that come with apartments, and, in other cases, exorbitant fees are paid. Sometimes, the client knows exactly what’s stored in the unit and wants to make it less cluttered or more appealing. And sometimes, the items have been put away for years, and the client has no idea what s/he will find there. While I generally believe that a client is better off purging and living within his/her space means, here are some instances when a storage unit is a good idea: