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Downsizing in Place, Part 2: Tap Into Your Treasure

Monday, August 9th, 2010

My daughter, Jenny, recently returned from living in Italy and was faced with the task of sorting through boxes from her college years. She had to decide what still held meaning for her and what she was ready to let go.

Making decisions about possessions that represent your life is difficult.  You wonder where to start. What is the reasoning process to use?

Then you can get bogged down with the question, “If I don’t keep it, what should I do with it?” The object represents history, or still has a useful life.

One strategy to use when the task seems overwhelming is to turn the process around. Rather than looking at what to get rid of and how, start by looking for treasures.

Ask yourself:

  1. What can I not bear to live without?
  2. Does anything give an emotional tug that holds good memories?
  3. What feeds my soul because it is of such great beauty?

Set aside these treasured items; these are “the keepers!”

All that remains is to determine what you use on a regular basis or you must keep to stay out of jail. The rest can go. Isn’t that a freeing thought?

Remember, you don’t have to keep inherited items or gifts if they do not hold meaning for you! Let someone else cherish those.

Extreme Downsizing… So Tempting!

Monday, June 28th, 2010

I had just returned from a week’s vacation in Arizona and was feeling footloose and fancy free. Then I read Sean Ogle’s guest blog on Unclutterer entitled “Less stuff, more adventure”. It brought back memories of my first year of marriage to my Army Lieutenant when we could fit everything we owned – literally!- in the back of a Chevy Vega.

Tiger Balm Garden, Hong Kong

Sean went a step farther and sold the car! Now he is a world traveler living out of a backpack. He was writing from Bangkok, Thailand.

Obviously, Sean is not living in a tent and he must have a bank account he is drawing from. He is making his living with freelance writing and other online ventures. When not punching a computer keypad, he is meeting the Thai people, learning their culture and enjoying the bustle of a very cosmopolitan city.  Read Sean’s article here. Very motivating to lose the stuff that ties us down!

Did you visit the Tiger Balm Garden yet, Sean? Jeff and I were there in 1976, great place to celebrate the Bicentennial. Congrats on taking the steps to follow your dream!

Favorite Purse Organizer: the Pouchee

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Pouchee.comFor women there are certain things we have to carry with us at all times: keys, cell phone, lipstick, pens, etc. Put these small things in a big purse and you have instant disorganization! So, we buy purses with lots of little pockets to hold all of our “must haves.” But, to change from one purse to another means to empty out every pocket. What a time waste!

The solution is purse organizers.  The Pouchee is my favorite purse organizer because it is a self-contained unit that you can grab and GO!  There is no wrapping, no sagging, and no assembly. The best way to describe the Pouchee is:  your change purse on steroids.

Black Pouchee exterior

Black Pouchee interior

Within a compact 7×5×3″, you will be able to tote lipstick, cell phone, tissues, a wallet or change purse, all of your credit cards, keys, even a note pad.  The sturdy 2″ metal rings and magnetic closure make it easy to pick up and exchange from one purse to another, or to carry alone when you are on a quick errand. There are enough inner dividers and even a zipper compartment so that all your “must haves” will find a home. You won’t have to dig for keys!

Best of all, the Pouchee comes in 12 different colors in cotton (washable) and 11 colors in leather. You can make a fashion statement with red leather, or support a cause with the Breast Cancer LTD Edition.

Other Pouchee products are available with plenty of pockets including a jewelry traveling case (11×14×2″), and two sizes of automobile console caddies.

I especially wanted to let you know that the Pouchee Purse Organizer is on sale now through Mother’s Day for 10% off your entire purchase. Use the code poucheemom at checkout at the Store.

Even if the whole package weren’t so practical, I would still love the logo of a kangaroo holding a tiny purse! Cute!

What to Do About the Hobby I Used to Be Passionate About?

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Have you had an interest in the past that has been pushed aside by family or job responsibilities? You plan to get back to your sewing projects, sports collection, history books, scrapbooking, genealogy, _____________________ (fill in the blank) someday.  Meanwhile, that mound of yesterday’s projects is a distraction at best, at worst a symbol of failure to execute.

Topps 2010 Baseball Cards

It is possible that your interests simply have changed and you have outgrown that pursuit or hobby. Do you ever read the first half of a book and decide you learned all you wanted to on that particular topic?  The same can happen with any interest.  There is nothing wrong with deciding to change direction or to learn a new skill. Like the book, a hobby or activity can be set aside and the materials given to another avid follower.

Do not allow that stalled project to rule your emotions or take up precious space.

If you truly want to pursue a past activity when your time is freer, box up the project materials and store in a remote location. That will clear both your mind and your space of extraneous clutter. All your materials will be intact when you are ready to begin anew (or to gladly pass it all on to a grateful friend.)

No guilt or regret need apply!

How Do You Get Kids to Take Their Stuff?

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

This is the question I was asked at a recent GO Month presentation. The topic was Downsizing BEFORE You Have to Move.

The short answer – Set a Deadline! I give anyone reading this permission to make me the bad guy. Say, “My professional organizer is making me do it!”

Watch this short video for a true story about kids and their stuff from premier New Zealand organizer, Wendy Davie.

My mom saved stuff for her four children in her basement for 30+ years. When she was ready to move into a retirement center, she set the deadline for us to take our stuff or else.  Clothes from the 70′s were mildewed.  Hundreds of science fiction paperbacks were carted off (and pitched later.) There was no reason for her to have stored those things all that time.

Be tough! Set a deadline. If the stuff is important, children will take it.  If not, donate the things so someone else can use it.

Clutterer vs Hoarder, What’s the Difference?

Monday, January 11th, 2010
Hoarders A&ETV

Hoarders A&ETV

The A&E show, Hoarders, does not give viewers the option to walk away untouched. Whether you are shocked, saddened, or can relate to the accumulation of things, it is impossible not be moved by the plight of these homeowners.   So how do you know if you or someone you know is a hoarder?

According to Mike Nelson, author of Stop Clutter from Stealing Your Life and originator of Clutterless Recovery Groups, less than 1% of the population is a true hoarder. He explains the difference this way:

“A hoarder cannot make rational decisions about what is useful and what is not. Thus, the hoarder often saves garbage or soiled items. If you don’t you probably aren’t. You are probably “just” a clutterer, like the rest of us. I have worked with hoarders in my consulting capacity and it is a very sad and difficult task to help hoarders.

A hoarder obsesses about her stuff and is compelled to collect it. A clutterer just lets it pile up. We don’t give it much thought. It seems to flow into our lives without any effort on our part.

A hoarder is usually unaware of anything being wrong. If you are concerned about your clutter, you are in good shape.”

Read the rest of Mike’s article here.

7 Most Effective Organize-O-Metrics

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Perform these exercises once a month to lose 5-7 pounds of excess weight each time. ( As an added side effect, you may lose weight and build stronger bones.)42-15614410

  1. Deep knee bends: Bending knees, keeping back straight, lift one item from the floor.  Place the item in a drawer, cupboard or box nearest to where you will next need it.  Keep a trash can handy for extra balance and to store things that have no further use.  Repeat 20 times.
  2. Lower abdominal tighteners: Equipment – empty laundry basket.  In your main closet, pull in your lower abdomen and hold it.  Taking one item from a hanger, put it on.  If unable to fit over your head, close the front, or fasten waist, place in the laundry basket.  Breathe out as you release your abdominal muscles and commit that piece of clothing to another home.  Repeat 10 times.  ( Reuse filled basket in exercise #3)
  3. Step stool high-stepping: Write on 2 index cards: KEEP and GIVE. Determine the least accessible shelf or cupboard in your kitchen. Using a step stool, remove everything from that space. While performing the exercise, ask yourself two questions about each item you touch:  1) Have I used this within 2 years? If  “No,” put the item in the GIVE  pile. If “Yes,” ask the second question,  2) Do I use it at least once a month? If “No,” put it back where it came from. If “Yes,” find a new home in a more accessible location.  Add the clothes from the laundry basket to the GIVE pile and dispose of everything by donating to a friend, charity, or the trash man.
  4. Hip flexers: Equipment – One or more 25 CD/DVD storage containers. Sit on the floor facing your media center with knees apart. Lean forward and pick up one DVD or CD. Return to the upright position and open the case while taking a deep breath. If the case has the correct disc, close it and set it in the container. If not, remove any disc and place both to the side for now. Breathe out. Repeat until all CD/DVD’s have been removed. Match up any newly discovered pairs and place in the storage container.  Empty cases then are placed behind the loaded cases and lone CD/DVD’s placed in sandwich bags go in front. One final step to finish this exercise strong: flip through each title and let go of those that no longer hold any interest for you.
  5. Lower back stretch: Equipment – a plastic bin labeled MOVE.  Lying on the floor face down near a bed, reach with your left arm to capture the nearest container-escapee from under the bed. Place it in the plastic bin. Repeat four more times, then do the same motion five times with right arm. Continue until the floor under the bed is cleared. Use the items in the container in exercise # 6.
  6. Cool down: Pick one item from the container filled in exercise #5. Decide which person uses that and where. Walk from room to room at a medium pace, depositing each item close to the door of the appropriate room. DO NOT STEP INSIDE THE ROOM! Keep walking until the container is empty.
  7. One last stretch: Crossing one foot over the other, slowly pick up the laundry basket from exercise #3. Change foot position, crossing the other foot in front and slowly pick up the plastic bin from exercise #6. Place in the laundry basket and lift both over your head. Stretching as high as you can, say, “I did it!” Put both containers away until next month.

Now you can go weigh the items in your GIVE pile to see how much weight you lost this month. Congratulations!