June, 2012

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Suggested Resources to Clear Serious Clutter!!

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

These are books I heartily recommend that address not just clutter, but CLUTTER – the kind that overwhelms and paralyzes. Whether you are a parent who doesn’t want to burden your children or are the child of parents who are aging, these books can help you get a head start on clearing the “stuff”.


The Boomer Burden

Boomer Burden

Julie Hall is an estate liquidation specialist. Her book deals with navigating the pitfalls of sibling arguments, parental sensitivities, and greedy resellers when trying to clear the family home. While written specifically for children of the Sandwich Generation, sidebars and other notes make this a friendly reminder to parents that that love means not waiting for a crisis to address the serious issues.




SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life: A Four-Step Guide to Getting Unstuck

shed your stuff

The subtitle of this book could read: When Organizing Isn’t Enough! Obviously, it is easier to organize less stuff. However, at some point the sheer volume of possessions makes organizing impossible. If you or your parents have lived in the same home for 20+ years, the collection has been growing for a while, utilizing every available nook and cranny. Julie Morgenstern’s book gives you a workable plan of attack to make a serious dent in the accumulation of stuff. The resulting freedom is worth all the sweat equity!



Don’t Toss My Memories in the Trash- A Step-by-step Guide to Helping Seniors Downsize, Organize and Move


From deciding when a move is necessary, to what to keep/dispose of, to checklists for the actual move, Vicki Dellaquilla provides a road map to guide you and your parent along the journey. Vicki has an empathy and understanding of the emotions surrounding our belongings from her expertise as a professional organizer and senior move manager.




NOTE for my fellow Sandwich Generation children:

It is extremely hard to tell another adult what to do, even when it is for their best good. Sometimes it will take the crisis as a wake up call. Do what you can now to be sure legal and financial documents are in place. Then slowly try to work at clearing one room at a time.
Your parents may listen to an objective third person say the same thing you have been trying to say for years. You can find a pro organizer in your area atwww.napo.net, or an auctioneer to help value items at http://www.auctioneers.org/find-auctioneer.

Handed Down Treasures Can Trigger Extreme Clutter

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

One of the common triggers of extreme clutter is the death of parents and “inheriting” their “stuff”. Often deaths on both sides of a married couple’s family occur so close together that the couple hasn’t had time to deal with the first wave of belongings before another hits.

Ideally, we will incorporate those belongings we can use and find beautiful. We want to appreciate and care for those items our parents treasured out of a respect for them.

In generations past, this handing down of possessions was welcome, and the treasures were important pieces of family history. However, with the expanding economy following WWII and consumerism of recent years, the “boomer burden” of dealing with parent’s “stuff” is truly that – a heavy, heavy burden.

So what can you do to stop the cycle?

If you are a parent of grown children, start now to downsize your possessions. Start with a room you do not use for everyday living and clear it out. Then use that room as a staging area for sorting, deciding what to keep or let go, and to designate who will receive the gifts/donations.

If you are the child who has received your parents’ things, you have a harder battle. Of course you will want to keep some of the more important pieces in the family: paintings, family histories, photos, and vintage furniture pieces.

Remember, you are not obligated to keep that “thing” that your mother or Great Aunt Agatha thought was so special.

Whether you are parent or child, these are some questions you can ask to help you determine if an item is a “keeper “or should go:

  • Is this item “moving van worthy”? If you were packing up your house tomorrow for a cross-country move, would you pay for the additional weight to transport it to your new home?
  • If you never saw it again, would you care?
  • Is keeping this thing and others like it worth the emotional struggle and overwhelm you feel on a daily basis?
  • Are you keeping things that bring to mind negative memories?
  • If this is part of a true collection, where and how do you plan to display it?
  • Does this item have historical value outside your immediate family? Would you like others to share in that history?

Applying the Pareto Principle to your (your parents’) belongings: 20% of the entire lot hold 80% of the value -are useful, loved, or are an essential part of your family history. Start now to make decisions about what to do to eliminate the other 80% of the “stuff”!!

Super Useful 3M Products, a Review

Friday, June 15th, 2012

A 3M representative came to our Ohio NAPO Chapter meeting in May to share some of her company’s new offerings in the way of home and office organization.

Of course 3M is the maker of Post-Its, a wonderful invention for writing reminders for ourselves and sticking them on papers, our computer, our walls, desk, bathroom mirrors, kitchen cupboards… OK, any tool can be misused. Post-Its are great when used wisely and sparingly.


I want to highlight a few Post- It products that I find helpful, along with suggested uses:


  • Wall Pockets (PB2 -CR bill size; PRBL-BPL multipack) – stick a pocket where you need it for coupons, bills to pay.
  • Notebook Pockets w/Closure (PNMED3-CR) – Clear poly envelope with adhesive to stick in planner, notebook, behind kitchen cabinet door.

3M also manufactures the Command hooks. These are some of the neat products that can help you organize in any room!

  • Cord Organizers (17301CLR) – Make those ugly cords stay out of sight.
  • Picture Clips (17210) – Hang those grandma brag photos anywhere.

Here is my note of caution:   if you are like me and you love organizing doodads, don’t buy these just because they are cool. Only purchase an organizing product if you have a definite purpose and place in mind for its usenow, not someday. I like all of these items, and will recommend to a client in the right circumstance, but am currently using only two in my daily life.


I hope this article gave you an idea how to organize one thing in your home or office. Let’s restrain ourselves and just purchase that one… for now!

Don’t Let Your TO DO List Do You In

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

Whether the interruption is an illness, an out-of-town visitor, or that hectic time at work, all of a sudden you have gazillion things to do to catch up. You write some of your thoughts on Post-It notes, but even more are swirling in your head.

How do you make the swirling stop? That’s what a TO DO List can help with as long as you retain control and don’t let The List become your master.

These are the steps I take when I am overwhelmed with a multitude of disjointed tasks.

  1. Grab a large pad of paper and write down everything you can think of that needs to be done. Include crucial details, but not mindless minutia. This is, in essence, “a brain dump”. It’s easier to deal with the task at hand once you have all of your thoughts together in one place.
  2. Put a * by the tasks that have a deadline and write in the date due.
  3. Next consider your priorities. Hopefully, you have taken time in the past to formulate what is most important to you. Do you value relationship building, increasing your income, growing independent children?
  4. With deadlines and priorities in mind, label each task you have listed with A – very important, B – somewhat important, C – must be done sometime, or D – would be nice. For larger projects, you might have to list smaller parts in the order of completion, and use A, B, C to designate that timeline. NOTE: Reconsider tasks you have designated of D importance. Can you just cross them off?
  5. Rewrite your list, grouping like tasks together: phone calls, emailing, research, etc. You will want to do these activities together, completing all while you are on a roll. See Batching blog.
  6. You have prepared your Master TO DO List.

You are now ready to write your TO DO List for today. Each day pick your top 3 tasks (or group of  like tasks) to get done. Concentrate on taking those all the way to completion. There truly is no such thing as a “partial victory.”

After 5-7 days you will be surprised how much you have crossed off your Master TO DO List and how accomplished you feel!

I recommend doing this process weekly, ideally making your Master List on Saturday or Sunday. That way you will know what you want to get accomplished in your week ahead. You will be in control of your time and your TO DO’s, not the other way around!