Finding It... Fast!

Eventually, most of us find the things we're looking for. Occasionally, we don't. Somehow it fell out of our pocket or was accidentally thrown away. It's frustrating, to say the least. Of course, we want to find our things. But, why is it important that we find them quickly?

It gets us out the door.

It allows us to continue our train of thought.

It keeps us from getting distracted (now we have to look for the thing!).

It prevents us from spending money to buy it all over again.

It keeps us calm.

It means we know where are things are, and we don't have to feel like our space is in charge.

Isn't That Distracting?

Everything can be a distraction if we let it. And, when it comes to organizing, boy do we let it!

There are three big distractions that keep us from finishing our organizing projects. Here they are, and here we can figure out how to get around them:

1) Walking out of the room. Whenever I'm working with a client and we come across something that belongs in a different room, we set it in the doorway of whatever room in which we're working. Say we walk out of the room to hang up the coat that was on the dining room chair. Well, naturally, we start to pull out the toys on the floor of the coat closet and put those away in the kid's room. Once we're up there, we start to fold the laundry. And it goes on and on. But, if we concentrate on just our area, and leave those deliveries for last,
we stay on task. The project we started working on gets finished more quickly and deliveries around the house don't take away whatever time we've already set aside. If you have someone eager to help with your project, have them play delivery person whenever you come across an item to go elsewhere.

2) Listening to something else. TV, radio, someone else in the house. It doesn't really matter what it is that has caught your ear if it makes you stop what you're doing. If you know you can't concentrate with background noise, turn off the TV, the radio, your phone, all the things that make some kind of noise. It's only temporary while the project's in full swing. Likewise, if someone else is in your space (spouse, kid, roommate, co-worker), let them know that you can't be bothered for "X" minutes. After that, you're all ears!

3) Someone making you stop. This is similar to the previous distraction, but can also include more. An appointment arises in the middle of your project. A neighbor stops by unexpectedly. The dog throws up. Who knows what it might be, but it's made you come to a complete halt. We can prevent some of this by paying attention to our calendars and marking down anything pertinent. Other than that, do your best to stay on task and explain, politely, that you're in the middle of a project and would love to set aside time later to catch up.

Now you can stick with it!

Leaving Behind a Houseful of Stuff

I recently took a course on the many steps involved in clearing out the home of a recently deceased person. There are so many things to consider. And, having also recently helped to clear a home of a hoarder who recently passed, I want to share some of those things.

First, know what you're looking for. Everyone has important things and papers in their space. But, not everyone keeps them in an organized manner. Keep your eyes open for birth certificates, deeds to property, passports, account numbers and the like. These documents will be necessary for the estate executor to carry out their duties. Important finds also include credit cards and keys (to the house, the car, the lock box...).

Second, know what everyone else is looking for. Are there family members or friends that are entitled to a particular item? Has the deceased person bequeathed certain items as a part of their will? If there are a lot of items and/or lots of people who will be claiming the items, consider having a box with each person's name on it. Place items in as they're found, and scratch it off your list.

Third, know when to call in another expert. If you come across items that appear to be rare or of particular value, call in an expert. Antique dealers, jewelry appraisers and even local historians can be of help. Sometimes, we find items that are so old or rare that we don't even know what they are. Online research can at least provide a starting point.

And lastly, know when you're done. If everyone has found the items they were intending to claim, and all sale-worthy items have been sold, it's likely time to start bagging up donations. Donate anything else left in the home that can still be used by someone else. Consider finding a charity with which the deceased was a part or supported, if possible. It can often make the process a little easier knowing that someone else can find use and joy from the items that remain.

4 Tips for Summer Cookouts

The warm weather is here, and all you want to do is bask in it! Planning cookouts, holidays, and weekend parties... They can be a little hectic to plan, so don’t get caught behind schedule.
Plan ahead with these 4 tips:

1.    Plan the menu ahead of time. Give about a week at least for the menu to be planned; then you’ll have time to run to the store for the things you need.

2.    Have ingredients and utensils ready. Immediately following the menu, make sure you have the ingredients to cook with and the utensils to eat with.

3.    Cook things the day before. There are several dishes that can be done in advance, such as pasta salads, potato salads, and more. Food like burgers, hot dogs, and chicken can be cooked the day of so they’re fresh and hot.

4.    Ask guests to bring a dish. You don’t have to do it all! Have your guests bring something yummy. Sometimes you can get a new delicious recipe from it.

5 Tips Before You Start the Moving Process

The entire moving process can be grueling. You may not realize just how much stuff you have until you have to go through it all. Below are 5 tips to do before you start the whole moving process:

1.    Declutter. Get rid of things that you wouldn’t want someone else moving for you. It may be an extra expense. Why pay movers to move boxes of things you’ll never use again?

2.    Pack things you don’t need right away. Packing things before you start moving will give you less of a headache later. Winter gear is a great example. I doubt we’ll be getting snow in May (in Chicago, you never really know though!)

3.    Label boxes properly. Write down the room it’s from and going to, along with what’s inside the box. A box has a lot of surface area so don’t be afraid to get into detail, if you think it will make unpacking easier. You can label boxes way ahead of packing and moving, too, if you want to make sure you have enough boxes to pack certain items.

4.    Make your home generic. In order to sell your home, you have to make it less you and more of a place that buyers can imagine themselves in. Take down memorabilia and photos to help better spin their imagination.

5.    Deep Cleaning. Whether you’re doing it yourself or hire someone, deep clean at both the old and the new place.

Summer Time

You’re going to be spending more time outside now so make it beautiful and relaxing. Buying, building, or salvaging outdoor d├ęcor can spice up an area. The smallest touches can have a huge impact.

You also want to make it fun for your kids. Go through the shed or play box that stores their outdoor toys. Toss any that are broken or they’ve outgrown. Donate ones they won’t enjoy, but someone else might. Make room if you decide to keep it or plan on getting them new toys (if need be).

Mother’s Day Mayhem

If you haven’t yet noticed the aisles in stores screaming at you that Mother’s Day is approaching, then consider this your final warning. Rather than giving your mother a cheesy last minute gift just for the sake of giving her something, make it from the heart.
Housework never stops, so see how you can help her with it. Be mindful of the system that’s already been set up, and continue that system yourself. Perhaps there is an area of the house that has gotten a little out of control. Help her organize and declutter it (or, do it for her!). Gifts that actually give her a chance to relax will be valued more.

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