Organising & Decluttering Blog Posts from Amanda Manson at Orderly Office and Home
I've had 2 consultations this week with people who need help organising their domestic/home paperwork. In both instances, they want - and need - to move from keeping a box full of mis-matched correspondence, together with the odd child's drawing, some sellotape, photographs and playing cards, to using a perfectly organised filing system that works for them.
Both have very similar problems - with lack of suitable storage being one of them! Whilst a shallow basket may be ideal for throwing a few things into every now and then, leaving it for months on end with no idea as to what might be lying in it certainly is not! Think missed bill payments, missed renewal dates, and worst of all, missed parties!!
So, aside from the intial declutter that we'll do, I've come up with suggestions for them that will fit into each of their family lives;
- Paperwork that will be kept on shelving in the lounge needs to be in attractive, yet suitable, containers.
- Paperwork for each of the children needs to be separated out clearly, and given regular attention.
- A diary system needs to be implemented.
- Ownership needs to be taken for dealing with the paperwork - it wont clear itself!
Bearing in mind that in my previous 'employed' life, I used to do this kind of thing regularly - managing the efficient handling and processing of Client work., I do actually find this kind of thing fun! If you can call organising paperwork fun!
I'll be working with these Clients soon to make changes to the way their domestic paperwork is handled and hopefully I'll be able to to share a picture or two of what we do decide to implement. Until then, I thought I'd share this fantastic post from blogger 'Feisty Tapas' showing how easy it is to re-purpose the things you already have in your home for a completely different use.
In the ‘office’ side of my job, I come across many small business owners who struggle to keep on top of many simple day-to-day tasks. Maybe it's due to lack of training on how to use a system properly, infrequency of doing a particular task, or that familiar 'too much to do and not enough time' scenario. Sometimes it's because they want to stick with the ‘same old system’ and don't consider change, so thought is rarely given as to how things are being done and if improvements can be made.
The result? A lot of precious time and money wasted doing things in a way that's simply inefficient.
Think about how much time you spend each day looking for things you should have to hand easily, or completing tasks manually. Here are just a few tips that could help you organise your office and business so that ultimately you have more money in your pocket at the end of each month;
- Email invoices to your Clients. By doing so, your payment period kicks in immediately and you'll save on printing costs, envelopes, postage and the time having to walk to the post box!
- Educate your Clients to follow your preferred payment method. If you incur bank charges every time you have to bank a cheque, move to a BACS system instead. Time & effort saved by not having to go to the bank each day/week and funds will be available sooner in your account.
- Maintain your email accounts. A business who 'forgets' to renew their mail hosting accounts will be locked out of receiving emails. If you have an alternative email address, make sure that you check that one too! How can you expect to receive enquiries or new business if you don't check them?
- Update & sync your calendars regularly to avoid missed appointments or reminders. Plan in 10 minutes a couple of times a week to run the necessary applications. Set it to update, then go and make yourself a cup of tea. When you've had your short break you'll have everything updated across your devices.
- Keep your business receipts and invoices in one place. There are few benefits to updating your accounts every single day, so find a dedicated place to throw all of your receipts - be it a folder, tub, tin or basket - and schedule time in your diary to go through and update your system/paper records on a regular basis. Or to outsource it to someone who can do this quickly & efficiently for you instead, allowing you to focus on the money-making activities for your business.
Consider these and other situations in your own office - perhaps multiplied a few times over - and think about the mounting costs to your business. What simple changes can you make? Dedicate time to giving your business a regular 'healthcheck' and, not unlike getting fit; you will soon start to notice improvements.
If you need an impartial pair of eyes to review your existing processes, why not get in touch? I offer a free 45 minute consultation during which we'll discuss your main areas of concern, then I will work with you to implement the practical changes for the future.
Yes - it's back for the 3rd year in a row!
National Declutter Week 2013, championed by www.storage.co.uk runs from Saturday 6th - Sunday 14th April, giving you 9 whole days (and 2 weekends) to sort, organise and declutter your stuff!
I wrote about this last year, and the thoughts behind it are just the same. Rid yourself of the excess, the unwanted, the unnecessary, the 'just in case I ever need it', and allow yourself to enjoy the things that DO really matter to you in life.
In this consumer society there is the urge to buy more and more - despite the fact that we'd probably get along just fine wthout it, thanks! Take a moment before you make that next purchase and ask yourself if you really need it. I bet that with a little forethought you could reduce your spend - and your stuff - by just a little!
And with this in mind, for my husband's birthday this year, he hasn't received more 'stuff', but will be enjoying a bespoke Indian Cookery Session from House of Rampur instead. He'll be learning a new skill that he can use over and over again - and it won't take up space in our home!
So get cracking - make the most of the improved weather to get you in the mood, and by all means get in touch if you need a motivational & hand-on helper!
Well – wouldn’t you know it! We’re nearing the end of March and officially into Spring, yet you’d be forgiven for thinking it was mid-January, as half of the country appear to be under a blanket of snow! I’ve seen comments on Twitter from people who are ‘snowed in’ and Sky News is telling people to travel ‘only if necessary’! Not so here in Manchester, where we are pretty much protected by the Pennines.
However, if you are one of many ‘stranded’ in your own home (or office come to that!) and going a little ‘stir-crazy’ at being stuck inside, why not take some time to declutter and organise your space? Just half an hour here and there can work wonders!
In your home you could;
- Empty & sort your kitchen ‘junk’ drawer – everyone has one of these!
- Transfer some CDs to iTunes, make space by selling them online - eBay / Music Magpie
- Clear out & reorganise your bedding/towel store
- Clear your fridge & cupboards of outdated items. Make a shopping list for what you DO need!
- Find those photographs you’ve been meaning to put into frames & do it!
- Give your wardrobe a clear out, then hoover them out to remove dust, etc.
- Spend some time doing those little 'fix-it' jobs around the house
- Sort your magazines. Donate any you've finished with to your local dentist surgery, coffee shop, etc.
And if you’ve a home office;
- Review what's on your shelves/in your cupboards & remove what's no longer needed
- Check the comments/articles on noticeboards - are they current & meaningful?
- Give your keyboard & desk space a good clean (toothbrush & damp cloth work well here)
- Update the photographs around you or on your screen saver
- Cleanse your email inbox by deleting & moving items to folders and creating rules
- Unsubscribe from unwanted mailings
- Save contact details to your address book, then sync with your mobile devices.
- Tidy up your desktop documents & folders
- Write a list of tasks you need to do next week & prioritise them
- Schedule time in your diary to read motivational/educational/technical books
Whatever you decide to do, remember that if you are going to get anywhere, you need to start somewhere!! Not only will you feel revitalised for having tackled those niggling jobs, but you'll have killed a few hours of that 'trapped in' time too!
Here's hoping the snow doesn't last too long or cause you too much disruption!
Whilst working with a recent Client I came across a wonderful gizmo that I recall hearing briefly about some time ago, but had never seen first hand.
The handbag organiser. A revelation!
For any women out there who - like me - enjoy pairing up bags with shoes, or swapping bags to suit the needs of the school run, swimming lessons, days out, hospital visits, and work of course, then this could be the answer to your lost lipstick prayers.
This particular Client found her organiser extremely useful to keep her medication stored safely and securely in whichever bag she might use for work or socialising, and it avoided the need to transfer numerous tablets, inhalers, and other medical items between bags.
Of course, the sheer joy of being able to place your hand on your keys or your hand cream as you want it is good enough for me!
In a range of colours, in a small or large size to suit your needs, and from a plethora of suppliers on the likes of eBay and Amazon, there has to be something for everyone.
So, if your handbag contains more clutter than you dare to admit, order one of these cuties, tip out your handbag contents - yes that's everything from the dried out lipstick to the tissues, the endless pens and that pack of raisins that went off some time ago - then bin all the bad stuff and get ready to put back in a lovely ordered fashion just the stuff you really DO need to have with you day to day, in your very own handbag organiser.
Time to get organised and declutter your space, your life, your handbag!
Top Tips for dealing with kids clutter;
- Store items in places according to the age of your children. So, don’t leave games with lots of little pieces where a younger child could pull them out (and possibly try to eat them!), keep craft items or games that need adult supervision higher up or away from ‘everyday’ play things. Make the most of your existing storage BEFORE you rush out to buy new. Plastic boxes or tubs, wicker baskets and cardboard boxes are all perfectly suitable items.
- Encourage your children to be involved with keeping their toys in order. Make ‘out with the old, in with the new’ a fun game for them to enjoy – especially around birthday & Christmas times. Help them to understand that getting rid of old, age-inappropriate toys can benefit other children and will leave room for new ones! Children like having ‘jobs’ to do, so finding all the pieces of a jigsaw or all the cards in a deck can be rewarded by you playing a game with them once done.
- Avoid the boredom factor by rotating toys in & out of play. Children can feel overwhelmed with choice if absolutely every toy is in front of them, and they may turn to an old comfortable favourite (not unlike looking in your wardrobe for something to wear..?) and ignore the rest. If you’ve the space, move a few toys into a loft/garage for a while and swap them over every few months. It will suddenly feel like they’ve a whole new range of toys and they’ll be engaged in play for longer!
- Finally, remember that you don’t have to keep every toy! Only keep what is manageable for you, your family and your space. Items that are surplus to requirements can be recycled by donating to charity or a local playgroup, sold on the likes of Netmums or eBay, or if past their best and are broken, should be thrown away.
Decluttering can be a tough job, especially if doing alone. Work in short bursts and always keep focussed on the end goal. If you need encouragement & a helping hand, please get in touch!
I recently went to have my nails ‘done’ at a local Beauty Salon; filled with the excitement of Christmas & New Year socials, yet wondering how on earth I was going to keep my nails looking good whilst preparing food, wrapping presents and finishing up some declutter sessions with Clients too! So I booked ahead for a Shellac nail polish – it lasts 2-3 weeks with a glossy finish – perfect!
Now I’ve had Shellac done several times before and knowing what I’m like – a creature of habit when it comes to all things glamorous – it was no surprise that when the pallet of nail colours was presented before me, I panicked! Not 4 or 5 colours to choose from, but more than 40, with more combinations if you were to mix & match 2 colours, or add some glitter to them too!
Overwhelmed with the sheer number of colours before me, and feeling that time was now ticking on, I plumped for the same colour I have done every time (bar one occasion when I matched the colour to a dress I was wearing for my birthday!). So out came number 31 ‘Rubble’ and it was duly applied to my nails. The colour looked perfect (and still does!) and goes with everything, but part of me wondered if it would really have been so bad to have gone for a something different? I could have gone a little sparkly for the festive season, or chosen a redder colour than the simple, understated and completely inoffensive grey/brown than I normally have. But there just was literally too much choice!
Many people find themselves in a similar situation in other areas of life; children playing are often faced with ALL of their toys in one room yet with nothing to do, the woman with a wardrobe full of clothes yet has nothing to wear, the hungry person with a cupboard full of food yet nothing to eat, and the home-based worker with a desk overflowing with paperwork but nothing accomplished. In all of these situations it seems that when people are faced with what seems to be an overwhelming amount of ‘stuff’ (me included with my nail colours) they choose the easy option of avoidance and revert to making their usual decision, rather than to try something different for a change – something that might bring them new fun, a new outfit, a new recipe or the completion of a long-overdue project.
Think about decluttering your space. Many times Clients have said that that they would rather have turned around and walked away from the mountain of decisions waiting to be made rather than to deal with them, but something inside made them see sense and once we started organising, they couldn't wait to continue.
So, I would say that maintaining less IS more, for sure.
- Rotate toys in and out of play to keep youngsters fulfilled in play.
- Move out of season clothes from your wardrobe & experiment with different outfits to give your clothes more life.
- Avoid filling your basket with the same foods and try something new.
- Break paperwork tasks down into simple categories/tasks in order to be more productive when working.
Avoid being cluttered with too many choices and live a simpler life!
So Twelfth Night is almost here signalling the end of the festive period and, if you haven’t done so already, it’s time to take down the Christmas decorations and to store them away safely – and in a place that you’ll be able to find them – until next year. Some people hate this task, just because of the sheer amount of stuff that needs to be put away, and others because they‘ve just had enough of Christmas altogether! I have to admit that it is nice to put everything away and to get back to 'normal' - whatever that may be!!
I like to apply the ‘out with the old & in with the new’ rule to Christmas decorations. It’s time to get rid of anything you no longer like and to dispose of broken items if they can’t be fixed. Ensure that what’s left over is stored ‘like with like’ which will make things easier when you come to take them out again next year. There are some lovely storage containers out there from shops & online retailers – boxes with compartments for baubles, long bags for giftwrap, plastic fairy light winders and so on, but a cardboard box and labelled carrier bags will also do equally as well. I even use an old holdall to store our indoor & outdoor lights – it’s easy to lift in and out of the loft.
If you've been left feeling somewhat overwhelmed with a number of gifts you've received that you really don’t want, please don’t be tempted to hang on to them for the fear of feeling guilty – the betting is that you’ll never use them and they will just pile up and become clutter in your home. Consider selling on one of the numerous sites like eBay or Netmums, swapping books or 'swishing' clothes or donating on the likes of Freecycle or to a local charity shop. After all, ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’!
If your gifts came amongst a stack of packaging, think carefully before hanging on to it – just in case it might come in useful one day. Often the amount of packaging compared to the gift size in completely inappropriate – just look at these three gorgeous L’Occitane handcreams that I received. They came in a massive box that could have contained 3 times as many! Whilst the box is lovely, sturdy and might be useful in the future, if I can't find a use for it in the next week it will go into the paper recycler rather than become clutter in my space.
And finally, if you are still struggling to make at least one New Year's Resolution, make it that you will get and stay organised throughout 2013! Need help? Please get in touch.
On my return from a Client's decluttering session last week, it was particularly wild and windy, and things were being blown all over the place on the roads! It feels as though autumn has definitely ended and winter is here! The last leaves have fallen from the trees, it's cold and we're on the home run to the end of the year.
And now the rains in North Wales & the North East where many homes have been flood damaged - contents and personal possessions ruined by thick, muddy water. Coming from an insurance background it amazed me that so many people take little care over what they deem to be their 'valuable' items - whether that be valuable in terms of cost or in sentimental value.
It's not just floods that can cause damage to our belongings, but fire and smoke, water leaks and bursts, and even burglary. Whilst insurance can cover the financial loss - getting those items back might be harder than you thought!
If you've items that are precious to you, keep them somewhere safe;
- Scan original printed photos and store on a hard-drive
- Back up digital photos and other important documents to a hard-drive
- Store old keepsakes/collectors magazines/valuable papers in a plastic sealed container (to avoid water/smoke damage) or in a metal container (to protect from fire damage)
- Store similar items together, so that in the event of an emergency, you can reach for one box/bag and grab it in one go.
- Prepare an inventory of collections (CD's, DVD's, books etc)
- Keep insurance policies somewhere safe (Fire resistance box)
Whilst this isn't an exhaustive list, these are just a few things that you can do to protect yourself from losing the important things in your life.
What a horrible day we had here in Manchester yesterday! I haven't see so much constant rain for a while. It was definitely a day for being inside for as long as possible and just getting on with stuff. Which is exactly what I did.
After decluttering our old bookcase in the hall last week (and waving goodbye to my husband's old football programmes in the recycling lorry this morning) I've decided to shift the furniture around in my office to move said bookcase into here, providing me with some more accessible storage space. Currently I have 3 large - and high - shelves, but I can't access things on the top one...
So Monday saw a desk move nearer to the window; reducing glare on my screen and allowing for the occasional glance out at passers-by, a clear out and shuffle round of my storage cabinet and labelling of some additional wires. I use a wifi enabled printer which is a real bonus - I don't need to be hemmed in with equipment around me! I've also re-organised my existing files on the shelves, as I'm due to relinquish some responsibility from the school PTA later this week, and losing those files has given me back some much welcomed space (and time!).
Inbetween all of that, I've managed to action my emails, have a progress call with a Client, pay some invoices, read a paper, prepare the dinner, hang 2 pictures, change bedding and take the children swimming! I don't like to waste time - much better to be getting on with something constructive than watching time slip by! Reminded me of this chalkboard clock I snapped in John Lewis recently!
Once the bookcase has been moved into my office later this week, I'll share a picture so you can see just how I keep my office orderly!
During the last week there have been some changes in our household. The children are back in school, the weather has turned its back on summer and home-made warming soup is a regular on the menu! And lots of things have been leaving the house!
It's the time of year when we put memories of summer holidays and days out to one side, and get back into the 'swing of things' - be it work or school - and it signals the start of another chapter in our lives. And for me, it's also the countdown to 2 children's birthdays with Christmas slap bang inbetween them - when even more comes into our house, rather than going out! And so it has begun; our autumn clutter-clearing sessions.
This weekend, helped along by Sunday's poor weather, we filled 2 charity bags with our unwanted items which will go towards the British Heart Foundation's Bag-athon which is being run during September, allowing someone else to enjoy what we no longer want or need. We also filled another bag with items good enough to sell on eBay or Netmums, and hope to get a little cash back in return. We had dressing up clothes, books, tap shoes, CDs, kitchen door handles, jackets, iPad cover, picture frames, board games, bike stabilisers, and so on. And I'm so proud of my husband (and also a little sad for him) when he rifled through his treasured box of old football programmes from his youth and made the decision to get rid of all but a few of them. We're moving an item of furniture into another room in the house, so there's not going to be any space to keep these any more. He's been holding on to these for almost 30 years, and has looked at them maybe half a dozen times, but he was actually quite happy to let these go. Seems that being married to a professional organiser has influenced him more than I thought!!
It's that time of year again - children are off school for 6 weeks or so and many people are planning to get away from it all and jet off to a warmer place! So here are some handy tips to get you organised for your trip abroad, ensuring all the while that you take the minimum of clutter and uneccessary stuff with you;
Packing your Bags - always a pain to do, but done properly should be a breeze!
- Check your checked-in baggage allowance with your airline. Think carefully - is it worth stuffing an additional heavy item costing £10 into your suitcase, only to be charged an addiuitonal £20 at check-in for being overweight?
- Pack suitable clothing for the kind of activities you intend doing; if its lazing on a beach for 2 weeks, you don't really need a plethora of outfits for daytime use, just swimwear & a few cover-ups, if it's hillwalking in the Alps, you'll need plenty of thick socks & hats.
- Toiletries don't always need to be family-sized or complete new packs. If at home you only go through shampoo at the rate of 1 bottle every 6 weeks, you're likely to need only 1/2 a bottle for holidays (even accounting for additional post-swim hairwashing).
- Check the laundry facilities at your accommodation or in the resort. If you are in a private villa with it's own washing machine, you can most likely fdo without multiple outfits, making use of these facilities. If you don't have access to this whilst away, try to pack outfits that can be worn in different combinations.
Paperwork & Electronics - some of us just can't leave work behind!
- Travel with your important documentation in your hand-luggage to reduce the chances of it going astray.
- Make a point of scanning or saving a copy of your passport, links to your travel insurance documents, tickets, EHIC information and so on, into a shared web-accessible program so that you can access this at any time as you need it during your trip. Dropbox is an easy-to-use system that you can access over the internet - and best of all it's FREE to use!
- Sync your electronic devices before you leave, so that your most up-to-date contact information is available to you when you need it.
- Back up your home-based PC/laptop devices - be it to a portable hard-drive or to a cloud-based server...just in case!
- If you are unable to reduce the number of electronic devices you want to take away with you, try opting for just 1 space-saving charger device that can be used for several things - iPod, iPhone, smartphone, MP3, camera, laptop, iPad, etc. Argos sell a handy one for under £50 with international socket adaptors and they certainly save on limited space!
Kids - the little poeple who attract an enormous amount of 'essential' stuff!
- Firstly limit children to fitting their toys, books, games, etc into their own piece of hand-luggage (or section of a case). The Trunki is great as it doubles up as a case AND a pull-along for tired feet and this special edition Team GB Trunki is so cute!
- Let them identify their most precious items that they just can't be without, then do a bit of editing down just before you travel. My motto to my own children is "if you can carry it, you can take it, but YOU have to carry it." That tends to get the message across, and 12 books soon become 8!
- Keep a favourite teddy close at hand for the journey.
- Remember that often most of the stuff kids bring with them on holiday never sees the light of day! Hold back on dishing out all activity books, computer games, etc on Day 1, in order to avoid toy overload. Spread them over the duration of your break.
Whatever you end up doing during your holiday and wherever you end up going, I hope you have a great time, filled with many happy memories. And when you get back, be sure to edit, upload, share and back-up those photos so that you can enjoy them in years to come, and to print out a few of the best to proudly display in your home!
I've been very busy recently, helping to declutter homes and office spaces in Manchester and Cheshire, hence no news last week!
Whilst decluttering an apartment with a lady in Stockport I thought I'd try to capture some of the decluttering process on film, to give you an idea of how it works. Have a look here to see me in action - and look out for the cat!
You can read my guest blog about that particular delcutter experience on the daily magazine style blog 4 Manchester Women. (image courtesy of 4 Manchester Women)
I've also been talking to Nicola Warwick about decluttering. Nicola takes an holistic approach to life and helps people to live their life in a more soulful way, through her twice-monthly Cosmic Soul Gatherings. She advocates the decluttering of the mind as well as physical decluttering to help people to overcome particular issues in their lives. You can see our two-part conversations here (part 1) and here (part 2).
I hope these short videos give you a little more of an insight into me and my work! Enjoy your week!
A few weeks ago I went to the Birmingham NEC to visit the BBC Gardeners' World & BBC Good Food Show Live, but it's still fresh in my mind! It was a great day out and I saw lots of interesting ideas to make life easier & more organised! What more could I ask for?!
What amazed me first was the sheer number of people who, on arriving, we pulling along these plastic carts behind them. Some contained coats or lunch, others - small children! They were being sold at the show and were literally flying off the shelves. A great idea for those wanting to buy heavy bottled oils or lumps of cheese, or for transporting delicate plants. The best thing is that they flat-pack down to the size of a large laptop so are easy to store when not in use.
Next were these wonderful collapsable watering cans - what an innovative idea! Made from soft waterproof fabric, the attachments screw on for use, and store away on top of the lid when not in use, keeping the whole thing together with a flexible band. They allow those living in a place with limited storage to have access to things they may have dismissed in the past. So if you've a small garden - a rooftop garden perhaps - or maybe you don't want to keep your watering can in your eyeline, this could be for you!
For the true gardeners amongst you there were several ideas for making a garden look its best, whilst at the same time using up old unwanted items to create artwork. These pictures are from a design by Erica Ward whose 'Smile' Garden won a Silver award. Her young son Harry blogs about all things gardening - including his Mum's work!
The use of old rakes, trowels, shears, glass bottles, gardening boxes and other hard structures in the lettering blended so well with the soft planting, it really made the design come to life!
And what better way to use up clutter from your garden?!
These old wellington boots were used to grow strawberries and were part of a display by a local Primary School, which recreated wartime Britain.
And it seemed that there was plenty of excess wool lying around someone's house, and here's what they did with it. A complete garden - grass, plants, animals and all - knitted! Must have taken weeks!
As for the Good Food side of things, there were the usual displays of cheese, oils, popcorn, cakes, and so on - you name it, it was there! I also stumbled across a couple of tasty initiatives in the curry sector (something I can't resist!).
Rather than struggling home with bottles of ready made sauce from the supermarket which take up way too much room in your cupboard, or storing 30 different spices with the intention of using 1/2 a teaspoon to make something once in a blue moon, I discovered Spicentice. They supply ready mixed sachets of spices & rubs to suit all tastes. Not only do they take up less space, but they are just perfect for those with little or no time to truly cook from scratch and they taste fantastic too!
Here's Ketan and Tejal showing me their products, which naturally made their way into my purchases bag!
There were also lots of places selling kitchen utensils and gadgets - something I have to admit to steering clear of - purely to avoid clutter build up in my own cupboards! Let's face it. How many times have you ended up buying something like a melon-baller or enormous juicer that lies in the back of the cupboard for years, never to see the light of day again? Too many probably, so I was happy to walk on by!
But it would have been rude not to stop off and sample some of the other food and drink now... wouldn't it?!
Enjoy the rest of your week; whether that's enjoying the fruits of your labour in the garden, or someone else's in the kitchen!
So there, I've said it. Only 6 months until Christmas and it doesn't even feel like we've had a summer yet!!
I know it's a long way off but in a matter of months the preparations will be well underway; presents to buy, decorations for the house, food & drink to consume and...visitors coming to stay. "Help! Where am I going to fit everything?" I hear you cry. Exactly.
But in reality, in this consumerist society that we live in, do we really need to go out and buy loads of new things just for a few days in the year? Probably not, which is why I would suggest that this year you start to think early and carefully about the gifts you might give, and the additional stuff that you might bring into the house at that time.
Gifts - rather than go out and buy more 'stuff', why not give someone the gift of an experience, or a babysiting voucher, a beauty treatment or a holiday voucher? Far more useful and appreciated than a shoe cleaning set in the shape of a dog! Alternatively, do a present pull with your nearest & dearest and spend a set amount of money on each person who can then have 1 item that they would really like, but wouldn't normally splash out on for themselves.
Food & Drink - be realistic about what you will consume. Do you still have a jar of unopened cranberry sauce in the back of the cupboard overlooked from last December? Or a bottle of cream-based spirits that's 1 serving down and past its best, that you only bought because the advert made it seem sooo tasty? Far too often kitchen cupboards become cluttered due to overbuying in the supermarkets. Go through your cupboards well in advance, use up what you can, make a note of what you are likely to need - and stick to it! You're more likely to save yourself money doing this too as you wont be tempted to stray from your list and impulse buy things that wont get eaten or drunk.
Home Furnishings - why does everyone want to get that job done "in time for Christmas"? Well ok, you dont want to have visitors in a shabby looking house, but the real reason they will come to see you is for YOU - not how your house is decorated! Don't put yourself under pressure to be perfect!
A good way to get prepared for the onset of Christmas is to declutter your home. Why not challenge yourself to remove just 3 items each week from your home, so that your space instantly begins to feel calmer and less chaotic. You'll be spending more time indoors during the winter months, and you won't want to be overrun with your possessions. And if you are after the perfect present - why not give a declutter voucher from us!
If you would like help & supprt to get your home decluttered - in time for Christmas or sooner - please get in touch to discuss your needs.
Have a great week!
Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Over this last particularly wet and windy Manchester weekend, I finally managed to make a visit to the Lowry in Salford to see the fantastic ‘House of Lennox’ exhibition before it closed. This was a brilliant collection of items belonging to acclaimed singer-songwriter Annie Lennox which had been brought out from the archives for everyone to see.
I'd heard an interview with her on the radio last year when the exhibition was first displayed at the V&A in London and was so pleased when it came to Manchester in April. What she had said made me smile; “Each time we made a video, there would be some sort of wonderful costume or prop. What do you do with this stuff? So much work goes into creating it, and once it’s over - do you throw it away? Give it away? There were suitcases of stuff, then boxes & trunks full. I love these things. I’d open up a case every 5 years or so and there would be an outfit I loved. I wanted to share these things. To amalgamate all of the work I’ve done over the years with The Tourists, Eurythmics, and in my solo career – t-shirts, programmes, gold discs, all sorts of memorabilia – it’s just fantastic.”
I personally loved the little ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ display – containing a Christmas figure, red sparkly shoes on a keyring, silver-feathered (fake) birds, hairgrips, a wand, note books, and so on – all of these items not too dissimilar to the 'precious things' that lie in a basket next to my youngest daughter’s bed!
Just goes to show - we're all collectors of things of one sort or another – even the rich & famous hoard their stuff away, but most have more space than others to store it! The realisation that to share it, to look at it and to enjoy it is far better than to keep it hidden away from the world is liberating and brings happiness. So if you have treasures hidden away - think about what they really mean to you - and if you love these items, display them somewhere for all to see (just not in a cluttered spot for someone to trip over them!!)
Disappointingly, the exhibition closed in Manchester yesterday, but moves to The Aberdeen Art Gallery from 7th July 2012.
Picture courtesy of Annie Lennox's Google+ page.
Over the last few days of Jubilee celebrations, whilst we've all been enjoying street parties and stuffing our faces with cream teas and champagne, it's been fun to watch the odd television interview with ‘ordinary people’ across the land who have a great fascination with all things Royal. I saw one piece on a lady (in Australia I think) who was clearly HRH mad and every room in her house was devoted to some form of Royal memorabilia, including the toilet (the throne - of course) and her front garden which was surrounded by large plastic Royal Guardsmen!!
It’s quite common for people to start with a couple of items that they enjoy, which turn into 4 or 5, then 10 or 11, and so on, and before you know it the collection has grown into several hundred items! Depending what the collection is, storing and displaying them could be an issue if you don't have sufficient space. And just think about when you come to move house!! The packing considerations would go through the roof - just like Peter Elston here in the picture.
I guess that you’d consider your collection as being clutter if it starts to impact on your everyday life; getting in the way of your normal routine & space, and stopping you from moving on with things. And to be honest, if only part of your collection is on display, with the rest in boxes, spread across several rooms in the house & garage, then it’s not really a collection to be enjoyed, is it?
So here are Orderly Office and Home's tips for looking after and showing off your prized collections;
- Remove duplicate items – 1 of each is usually enough.
- Consider slimming down your collection as a whole – what value and enjoyment does looking at several (hundred) items at once really give you? Can you really see the best items if they are surrounded by so many others?
- Only display a selection of items that give you the most pleasure to look at – perhaps store some of the others and rotate your display every few months.
- Photograph all of your items - grouped by type, size, date, etc, then you can quickly view & show them to others without having them in the way of your day-to-day life.
- Think about the value of your clutter collection. By selecting only a few treasured items to display and selling the remainder onto another collector, you could make yourself some money and buy back some of your valuable space! Using a site such as eBay is a great platform for transferring collections from one collector to another, or contacting a local auction house might be an option.
And if you just can't help but to add to your collection, then at least look out for items that might have some real value to them in years to come! Lorne Spicer (antique expert) suggests that you look for
- Restricted items (where only a few were produced)
- Rare items (where only a few will remain in the future)
- Rubbish items (where items were produced to be thrown away - and thus may be rare in the future)
I hope that you enjoy the wind-down of the Jubilee week and take some time to view & enjoy your memorabilia! If you want hands-on help and support in clearing or organising your collection, then Orderly Office and Home is here to help you - just drop me a note via the Contact Us page and we'll take it from there.
So, as I sit in the garden writing this post, I'm wondering if this is really it! We've had a whole week of glorious weather which has seen people shedding their winter wear and pulling out all manner of summer shorts, t-shirts & maxi-dresses. Temperatures have hit 80 degrees F across the UK which is fantastic. But will we be back in our thermals next week? Let's hope not!
In keeping with my organised nature, I too have made changes over this last week and done my annual de-clutter of our seasonal clothes. I keep all of our 'out of season' items stored in a see-through box in the loft, ready to be brought down when the weather changes. This is especially useful for my 2 daughters; as the younger one has the seasonal cast-offs from the older one - with a couple of year's break inbetween!
For us grown-ups, it's great to be able to thin out the coats, jackets, boots, scarves & gloves from our hallway cupboard to make way for the lighter jackets, flip flops, pumps & caps. Hopefully, I wont be saying hello to my ski jacket until mid-November (unless I manage to fit in a sneaky ski at the Chill-factore)! It's a chance to give everything - including the cupboard - a good clean, and to check what still fits. The items that we no longer have a need for; usually things the kids have outgrown, are folded and packed up for the charity shop, and anything which is still in especially good condition will be sold on - after all we're not made of money and we'll need to replace with similar items later in the year.
So to store successfully until next season;
- Keep 'like with like' - all children's stuff together, or all hats & gloves, all coats, etc.
- Fold or roll delicate items to avoid creasing.
- Use clear storage boxes/crates and label them so that you know what you have.
- Keep larger items such as ski jackets in thick bin bags or storage bags. The ones where you can extract the air are great for these.
- Make sure boots & shoes are clean when you store away. There's nothing worse than having to clean items when all you want to do is wear them!
- Make a note as you are packing up of the items you DON'T have for next year, and you need to buy. That way you can keep an eye out over the coming months for any items on sale, or be first in the queue when they are in stock in the shops.
- Move items out of the way where possible and store in the loft/garage/under the bed/spare room.
I'd love to hear from you if you've any useful suggestions for storing out of season gear!
Have fun storing!
If any of you have been watching the recent programmes on TV about hoarding disorder, then you will be familiar with the kind of work our job entails.
Both Channel 4's 'The Hoarder Next Door' and BBC1's 'Britain's Biggest Hoarders' have highlighted to the nation that there are in fact many people blighted by a need to keep hold of lots of what appears to most people as 'useless' items. However, with the right help, support and motivation, the people on these programmes have been able to take steps towards acknowledging the issues, clearing their clutter and moving on with their lives - and more importantly - allowing them to exist in a way that they haven't been able to for some time. Just being able to invite family members around for a meal at a clear table for the first time in years is a huge step forward.
It's in these programmes that more and more people are recognising themselves in a way that they hadn't before. If you or someone you know would benefit from our help in moving forward, please do get in touch.
Yes, I know, they don’t work for everyone. We’re all different and I’m not insisting that anyone HAS to use one – you need to find what suits you. But there’s no harm in trying, right?
I have to admit to being a fan of To Do Lists! I live my life through lists, notes and reminders – paper and electronic. Thoughts come out of my head and go immediately onto paper, so my head remains free of mental clutter.
So here’s my suggestion for using To Do Lists effectively;
Long Term To Do List
Get all of your niggling tasks written down so that they’re staring you in the face. It may be to decorate the hallway, put up a curtain pole, replace the broken fence panel. They don't all need to be done NOW! Add to the list as time goes on, and include a ‘due date’ for those things that really are time-bound, such as visitors coming to stay. Pin it on your wall/calendar/noticeboard.
Current To Do List
This should contain things that need doing that day/week. So it could include booking a haircut, replacing a light bulb, buying a birthday present for a party at the weekend. Check it daily and add to it as more tasks come to light. Keep it somewhere you will see it every day.
The most satisfying bit about having any To Do list is surely the crossing off completed tasks! Take pleasure each day in looking at all of those strike-throughs. Don’t focus on what’s left to be done, but at what you HAVE achieved. And don't forget to give yourself a pat on the back.
So come on, don't flap because there’s so much to do – get it out of your head and onto paper. Get it structured, time bound and assign time in your diary to get things done!
Here are my top tips for ensuring that you'll be ultra-efficient throughout the coming week;
- Ensure that you (and your partner) go through your diaries & family calendar to check who should be where and when! Make arrangements early for attending to children & their hectic social lives!
- Sync your electronic calendars, so that you don't miss appointments & reminders when you are on the go. So that's your smartphone & Outlook done.
- Be prepared for your upcoming appointments. (Being a Girl Guide wasn't wasted on me!) There's nothing worse than having a panic 10 minutes before you are due to leave for somewhere because you haven't got things ready. Check the night before - get everything to one side & you're good to go!
- Plan meals and food shopping for the week, if you can. Life can be so hectic and mealtimes come around sooner than you think! A half hour spent checking your whereabouts, meal needs and likes will save you double that by having everything ready in advance. If you can bulk cook meals in one go, even better! A larger serving of mince, for instance, will do for spaghetti bolognaise AND a cottage pie!
- Get your clothes ironed and planned for the week. Stephanie - aka The Wardrobe Angel - will agree with me on this! Check the 5 day forecast, think of your upcoming appointments and make a note of what you want to wear to each of them.
- Get any forms, occasion cards, reply slips filled out and ready for posting or handing in at school, and so on. You rarely have time in the morning to start reading forms, filling out cheques and finding an envelope, so doing it early will pay dividends!
Try it! I'm certain that you'll notice the difference to your stress levels on a Monday morning!!
John Durrant, the founder of Favabank, explained to me in a recent email;
"I thought I'd take the opportunity to contact you as a professional declutterer to let you know about a new website that helps people to pass on unwanted items to others in their community who can make good use of them.
The website is Favabank which is a platform for bartering everyday items and sharing skills and favours. For decluttering, it could be seen as a little like freecycle / freegle, where you can pass on unwanted items.
The difference with Favabank is that it comes with its own virtual currency so when you pass things on to others, they pay you in 'Favas' which are shown in your Favabank account and can be 'spent' in the future on items or skills offered by other people. The focus is on generating local, friendly and helpful exchanges.
The site is free to use for everyday neighbour to neighbour transactions."
So if you think that this could be for you, give them a try!
Well, not so long ago I attended the annual conference in London for APDO-uk; the Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers. With over 100 members in the UK, just over 1/3 were able to come together to learn and share some really useful information about our industry.
With talks from professional organisers from the Netherlands & the United States, not-for-profit organisations, Anxiety UK (with whom apdo-uk have now partnered), an NLP (neuro-linguistic practitioner) coach, to name a few, along with group work, it was an extremely enjoyable & fulfilling day!
Here's the youtube video which gives you an insight into the day. Enjoy!
If you are reading this post as someone who is interested in becoming a professional declutterer and organiser, please feel free to pick up the phone or drop me an email - I'm always happy to share the ups and downs of the industry!
If you are a small business owner you are probably breathing a huge sigh of relief (or exasperation) as the Tax Year ends and another one starts. Or if you are a homeowner, maybe you are taking advantage of the miserable Bank Holiday weather to clear your personal filing system? Whichever you may be, I wanted to share some tips on how to keep your filing systems in good order.
So here we go;
- Remember that you are doing this to become more organised and efficient!
- Start by purging the whole filing cabinet. That means everything out, everything looked at, and a decision made on everything. You are likely to come across duplicated documents, outdated policies, and even manuals for items you no longer own!
- When you are ready to file away, make sure that you file 'like with like'. So that's all the documents relating to insurances together, family, property, medical, etc.
- If you file your business and personal documents in the same cabinet, ensure that you have a clear distinction between the two. Either have a drawer for each, or split the cabinet front and back.
- Mark up each file with clearly marked tabs. Coloured tabs are especially good if you like to be able to identify things visually, whereas clear ones - whilst you can insert white notes in them - all look the same on first glance. You might want to use colour to distinguish between certain aspects; ie Clients, By Client, and then within these have separate folders for relevant information.
- Make sure you keep a folder for receipts! Business owners - it's a requirement! Homeowners - it's useful for more expensive items and gifts.
- And don't forget your best friend - the scanner. Allowing you to access everything at the touch of a button, without having them physically in your space is just wonderful!
Motivated to get started? No? if you really can't face going this alone, Orderly Office and Home is here to help.
Wherever possible I like to shop local and Holts Business Solutions in Altrincham, Cheshire comes highly recommended for all of your stationery needs.
So this week sees the start of National Declutter Week 2012 in the UK. 7th-18th March.
But it's 10 days I hear you cry! Yes, intentionally so, in order to maximise the length of time people have to declutter their possessions - and to enjoy 2 whole weekends doing so!
Enjoy? Decluttering? How so?
Many of us go through the motions of simple decluttering without really noticing. We might shift some papers into the recycler once a week, or have a purge of the filing cabinet when we remember. But to really focus on removing some of the stuff from your home over a concentrated period is challenging, without doubt. That's why as a Professional Organiser I am able to help you look at the bigger picture and take a step back from the emotions of each item, asking you to really think about why you want to keep things.
I always use the motto - NUL; Need, Use, Love. If the item doesn't fall into one of these categories, you need to be asking yourself why you have it in your valuable space at all? What function does it perform and what will be the benefit?
This initiative has been thought up by Storage.co.uk, an online resource for all things storage related. The main focus of the period is to get people to donate their unwanted clutter to charity; so reducing the volume of stuff going into landfill whilst supporting a number of hospice charities along the way.
So if you feel up to the challenge, why not have a look at their blog and give it a go! Or, of course, call me to be the extra pair of hands!