Posts Tagged 'clutter'

The Keeper of Memories

“There is no childhood home to return to for holidays or long weekends. My mother long ago packed my bedroom items into a box marked,”Amy” ,and brought it to me in Birmingham. Letters from old boyfriends, photos from school dances, moody poems I wrote at 13-I keep them safe. I am the caretaker of my own past.”
Excerpt taken from “Going Home Again” By Amy Bickers Mercer,
Southern Living Magazine, April 2008

As another year of school comes to a close, memories of the past year are piling up. What are we to do with all the photographs, certificates and memorabilia each year?

Parents, you are the caretaker of your child’s past. How do you accomplish this without being overtaken and overwhelmed by mounds and mounds of memories, which when out of control, become clutter rather than keepsakes?

The answer really is simple: You save the BEST and the MOST special keepsakes, photos and memorabilia. If you save everything, it diminishes the value of those SPECIAL items. They will get lost in the shuffle, and you will be left with clutter, not keepsakes!

We tend to start out strong, with the first many pages of the baby book (for the 1st child, at least!) filled out completely. But then, life takes over and we might pile papers in the back of the book for a rainy day. The rainy day becomes the rainy years, and before we know it, our children are ready to launch out on their own, and if we are lucky, we have boxes of memories, which may or may not be clutter, to pass along to them.

So, how can we reign in the clutter and sort through the toys, books, clothes, artwork, school work, and photos? Will we, like Amy’s mother, be able to pass along a wonderful, handpicked history of our child’s development and memories?

First, think LONG TERM and SIMPLE.

Think through the categories or stages of your child’s life.

To document the life of a child, consider the following categories or stages; Baby, Preschool age, School Age, and High School. You will want to develop a system of saving memories for each category of your child’s life.

Finally, consider how YOU operate, and plan accordingly.

Next develop a system of saving memories for each category based on your own personality. Are you a detail oriented person who will actually fill in the blank spaces in the baby book, and the school memory keepsake? Lovely! Then simply set aside a few minutes each week or month, depending on your child’s age and rate of development, and do it! You know yourself and your life. If you are not someone who has time, energy or motivation to fill in those blank spaces in the memory books, then come up with a plan that will work for you. You can choose to use a calendar to record the milestones of your child’s development along with cute and funny sayings and incidents. You can hang the calendar in whatever room you spend a significant amount of time, so that it is often accessible and you can record your child’s milestones on the run, as they occur.

An alternative is to simply set aside a photo box, clearly labeled with your child’s name and, using dividers that come with the photo box, simply slip in the memories you jot down, photos and memorabilia in chronological order. Look how simple it can be!

The same system can be used to record the preschool years.

As your child approaches school age, consider purchasing a file box with 12 dividers or a banker’s box with 12 large envelopes. Then as each year slips by, keep a plastic or cardboard crate accessible and toss in all your child’s potential treasures……….., all the sweet cards, pictures, awards and brilliant writings. At the end of each school year, sort through and save the best and most meaningful. Then transfer them to the appropriate file or envelope. By the end of high school you’ll have a wonderful, handpicked history of your child’s life and development (with very little effort).

To borrow a phrase from Nike, “Just do it”! You’ll be glad you did (and so will your child)!

Happy Summer and Happy Memories!

Cheryl

Advertisements

Precious Memories

Precious Memories………….Treasures or Clutter?

Chances are, if you watch any television, you have seen this sweet Mother’s Day commercial of a daughter, Jenny, giving her Mom a Mother’s Day card. Jenny gives Mom a card and a hug. Mom goes into her home, takes down a small wooden box from a shelf above her desk,  opens it and takes out all the Mother’s Day cards that her daughter has given her over the years. You see Jenny’s handwriting change from a primitive scribble, to an adolescent’s writing, to a young woman’s script. You notice both short and sweet, and longer, more sentimental notes from Jenny. Finally, you see the note that Jenny has written on this year’s card, “From one Mom to another”, along with a picture of Jenny and her baby.  A proud moment for Mom, indeed. Precious memories treasured.

As much as I love the commercial, as a professional organizer, what I love most is the fact that Mom can actually find, look through, and appreciate the cards that her sweet daughter has given her over the years.

Too often, in our sentimental fashion, and in our attempt to savor and appreciate our memories, we keep every card, letter, photograph and sentiment ever given to us. As our piles accumulate, they become overwhelming and, by the sheer volume alone, become our clutter instead of our precious memories.

It is not unusual to find a scene similar to this picture, with boxes and bins filled with memories, haphazardly stored in the garage, basement or attic, simply because they had taken over the living space.

So, how do we keep our keepsakes and precious memories from becoming clutter?

  • Keep the most precious (and be willing to toss the rest)! If you hold on to EVERY picture, note, card, and memorabilia, the volume becomes overwhelming and you won’t be able to enjoy any of them. The idea is to pick the most meaningful, organize those beautifully, and toss the rest. That way, you can actually find and enjoy your memories.
  • Dedicate a specific space and container for your memories. You might have a specific memory box in your bedroom for cards from your husband. A special box in the family room for saving notes, cards and art work given to you from your children or grandchildren.  A few beautiful, well placed, magazine holders  on a shelf might do the trick.
  • Remember that your decision to keep or throw out a card or piece of memorabilia does not reflect a corresponding sentiment for the person who gave it to you!
  • Ask yourself a few questions before storing away that card, note or picture…….
    • Does it bring me joy, make me smile, and bring specific memories of the person who gave it to me?
    • Does it show off the qualities or personality of the person who gave it to me?

Baroque Storage Boxes from The Container Store

Basic Magazine Holder by See Jane Work

Handcrafted Wood Memory Box

Find a storage box that matches your personality and style. Something that you want setting out in your home. There are 1,000’s of options! Then, save and enjoy those precious memories!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Cheryl

Your Trash, Their Treasures

I am currently working with a client to organize her craft room. Now, she is a crafter from way back. She is a women who has seen trends and styles come and go, and has been in the forefront of many of them. Aside from crafting for her own enjoyment, Ruth is a craft teacher to many, a mentor to some and a Stampin Up representative to the masses. If you are in need of any Stampin Up supplies, Ruth can be reached at 410.751.8818.

She keeps up with the changing times, and so do her craft supplies. Over the years, her craft supplies have managed to take over her craft room. Despite the fact that Ruth is an organized soul, and had some great organizational systems in her craft room, the space had become unruly.

During our first organizing session together, Ruth was able to part with many craft supplies that have become obsolete to her. This truly is the 1st and most essential step in any organizing project.

Treasures Ready for Donation

You can’t organize clutter! And clutter is anything that you don’t love, anything that doesn’t bring you joy, or anything that you simply don’t need or use anymore. These are items that can be in perfect, pristine, and wonderful shape. They may be “in style” and current. But, if YOU don’t love them, if they don’t bring YOU joy, or if YOU can’t use them anymore, they become your clutter.

Ruth donated specific items to specific friends who she knew could use and would want them. Other items were boxed up for Goodwill. Finally, we had several boxes filled with art and craft supplies that she donated to Elmer Wolfe Elementary School. These included items that could be used for arts and crafts, as well as items that could be used as teacher prizes.

Both the teachers and the administration were thrilled and

For the hardworking teachers.......

thankful for Ruth’s generosity. The boxes were brought into the teacher’s lounge and the art and craft supplies were distributed to all. What an awesome gift Ruth was able to give the teachers at Elmer Wolfe Elementary School. Her trash truly did become a treasure and a blessing to others. Thanks Ruth for taking the time and the energy to bless another!

How might you be able to bless others with your “clutter”?

Happy (and organized!) days!

Cheryl

Paper Management, Part 1

Help, My Kitchen is My File Cabinet!

Take a quick look around your kitchen and dining room: the kitchen table, the counter tops, the buffet, and the surfaces of your refrigerator. Do you notice a re-occurring theme? Do you see the mounds of information needed to run your home and your life, spread hit or miss around your kitchen? Is the pile of junk mail, catalogs, and newspapers on your kitchen table blocking your view of your loved ones at dinner? If so, you’re not alone.

Do you realize how much paperwork enters your home on a daily basis? Most of us probably receive more mail on most days than our parents received in a week. We receive newsletters, magazines, bills, advertisements, million dollar offers, and letters, to mention a few. Along with incoming mail, many of us have school-aged children, who each bring home permission slips, completed work, tests to be signed, the dreaded fund-raising packets and letters from teachers and administrators. We receive the Daily Newspaper, and we carry in papers on a daily basis from work, meetings and appointments.

In my time as a professional organizer, I have come across a universal problem of overwhelming amounts of paperwork, and the resulting piles that usually end up in the kitchen. In our efforts to “Get Organized in 2010”, we will look at this all-too-common issue and outline simple solutions that can solve this problem and simplify your days.

Together we will create a plan of action. A place for everything and everything in it’s place! Clutter happens when we don’t have a place for something, or when it’s more difficult to put something away than it is to deal with it. The result is the inevitable cluttering up of our spaces and our lives.

As we create a plan for all the paper coming into our homes, we will ask ourselves some very basic questions:

  • Who needs this information?

  • Where will I/they need or use this information?

  • How long do I need/want to keep this information?

  • What time of day does most of this information come into the home?

  • Do I have time to put it where it belongs?

The truth is, the majority of the paper coming into your home will NEVER need to be looked at again!
“Man’s best friend, aside from the dog, is the wastebasket”.           Business Week

Remember this truth and always have your friend with you when dealing with paperwork. That’s the first and most essential step! Until next time, I challenge you to quickly recycle or simply throw out that which you don’t need, won’t use, or won’t read (despite your best intentions!). Make it a habit, and your piles may actually start declining!
In the upcoming weeks, I will be posting a 6-part Paper Management Series, which will simply outline what to do with all that paperwork. From developing short term and long term filing systems, to “junking all that junk mail”, to practical filing tips and tricks; all of which will help you to launch into a more organized 2010!

Happy (and Organized) Days!

Cheryl

It’s Time to LAUNCH into a More Organized Life!

Did you know that the average American spends nearly an hour every day looking for simple things? How sad! Think what YOU would do with an extra hour every day. It may seem like an inflated estimate, but let’s think it through a bit.

What do you typically spend your precious time searching for? Keys? Wallet? Shoes? Library books? School papers? Important documents? Tools? The list goes on.

Much of what we spend our time searching for includes items we need in order to get out the door. And isn’t that the most frustrating time to be searching? I’m sure you can picture it:

  • The bus will be in front of the house in 3 minutes, but first your sweet child needs to find their jacket and shoes, signed permission slip, gym uniform, lunch and library books. Chances are you just wasted 5-10 minutes searching along with 15-30 minutes in drive time, shuttling them to school because they missed their bus.
  • Your husband is getting ready to leave for work, but where are his keys, brief case, lunch and black belt? Just a few minutes late, and he’s more likely to be stuck in rush hour traffic. Precious minutes wasted in his day before it even begins.
  • You are ready to leave for a meeting, and had planned to run errands on the way home. You are now frantically searching for your brief case, the black pumps you wore Saturday night,  your grocery list and the library books that are due today. You run out of time, give up on finding the grocery list and library books, and head for the meeting, arriving just in time. Consequently, you add 30 minutes to your day having to run back by the house after work to retrieve your grocery list and library books.

Ok, now that you can relate to the problem, what is the solution? Part of the solution is the creation of a “Launching Pad”. It’s a place within your home that you designate as THE place to put anything you will need as you leave your home. It can include your keys and purse, library books to be returned, and the little neighbor’s  sweat shirt that was left at your home last week. Also, items such as your grocery list and errand plan, store returns and your PTA file needed for the next meeting.  You get the picture.

You tend to have a “Launching Pad”, whether you consciously plan to or not. Without a plan, your Launching Pad tends to be your kitchen counter or table, again adding to your kitchen clutter. So take a few minutes and think through a logical place for your launching pad, preferably near the door that you normally use. You could designate a kitchen cabinet near your “Quick Access Files”. Or you could designate a shelf in the laundry room, if it happens to be near the door. Be creative and look around your house for space that is available and makes sense.

This same concept works beautifully for your children. Create a place for them to keep their coats, shoes, backpacks and anything else that they may need as they walk out the door for school. This space could include hooks for coats, cubbies for shoes and larger cubbies for backpacks.

Hooks and Shoe Cubbies

Hooks and Shoe Cubbies

We actually have a small “Launching Room” in our home, with space for our children’s as well as our own coats, shoes, backpacks and other items coming and going out of our home. We were able to customize this space with labels for coat hooks and cubbies for each child. This both simplifies and organizes, saving many minutes and ultimately hours of search time.

Cubbies for the Kids

Cubbies for the Kids

In my previous post, I recommended creating “Quick Access Files” which will enable you to quickly find all those bits of information that you need often. The Launching Pad perfectly compliments the Quick Access Files!

Later this month we will look at creating a simple, yet effective long term filing system. If you can’t find any document within a minute’s time, your filing system is not as effective as it could be. Having an easy and effective long term filing system is yet another time saver.

Have Happy and Organized Days!

Cheryl

inorderforlife-small1

The Keeper of Memories

“There is no childhood home to return to for holidays or long weekends. My mother long ago packed my bedroom items into a box marked,”Amy” ,and brought it to me in Birmingham. Letters from old boyfriends, photos from school dances, moody poems I wrote at 13-I keep them safe. I am the caretaker of my own past.”
Excerpt taken from “Going Home Again” By Amy Bickers Mercer,
Southern Living Magazine, April 2008

Parents, you are the caretaker of your child’s past. How do you accomplish this without being overtaken and overwhelmed by mounds and mounds of memories, which when out of control, become clutter rather than keepsakes?

The answer really is simple: You save the BEST and the MOST special keepsakes, photos and memorabilia. If you save everything, it diminishes the value of those SPECIAL items. They will get lost in the shuffle, and you will be left with clutter, not keepsakes!

We tend to start out strong, with the first many pages of the baby book (for the 1st child, at least!) filled out completely. But then, life takes over and we might pile papers in the back of the book for a rainy day. The “rainy day” becomes the “rainy years”, and before we know it, our children are ready to launch out on their own, and if we are lucky, we have boxes of “memories”, which may or may not be clutter, to pass along to them.

So, how can we reign in the clutter and sort through the toys, books, clothes, artwork, school work, and photos? Will we, like Amy’s mother, be able to pass along a wonderful, handpicked history of our children’s development and memories?

First, think LONG TERM and SIMPLE.

Think through the “categories” or stages of your children’s lives. Possible categories might be Baby, Pre-School, School Age and High School.

Secondly, think through how YOU operate.

Next develop a “system” of saving memories for each “category” based on your own personality. Are you a detail oriented person who will actually fill in the blank spaces in the baby book? Lovely! Then simply set aside a few minutes each week or month, depending on your child’s age and rate of development, and do it! You know yourself and your life. If you are not someone who has time, energy or motivation to fill in those blank spaces in the baby book, then come up with a plan that will work for you. You can choose to use a calendar to record the milestones of your child’s development along with cute and funny sayings and incidents. You can hang the calendar in whatever room you spend a significant amount of time, so that it is often accessible and you can record your child’s milestones “on the run”, as they occur. An alternative is to simply set aside a photo box, clearly labeled with your child’s name and, using dividers that come with the photo box, simply slip in the memories you jot down, photos and memorabilia in chronological order. Look how simple it can be!

The same system can be used to record the preschool years.

As your child approaches school age, consider purchasing a file box with 12 dividers or a banker’s box with 12 large envelopes. Then as each year slips by, keep a plastic or cardboard crate accessible and toss in all your child’s potential treasures……….., all the sweet cards, pictures, awards and brilliant writings. At the end of each school year, sort through and save the best and most meaningful. Then transfer them to the appropriate file or envelope. By the end of high school you’ll have a wonderful, handpicked history of your child’s life and development (with very little effort).

To borrow a phrase from Nike, “Just do it”! You’ll be glad you did (and so will your child)!


Twitter Updates

  • New Beginnings and Fond Farewells This January will mark my 10 year anniversary of running In Order for Life. It... fb.me/3h85u4Bok 1 week ago
  • The sad state of many of our homes. And lives. It's a good read. Very illuminating. We can do so much better for... fb.me/6bXIkLXB6 3 months ago
Follow inorderforlife on Twitter

Visit In Order for Life's Facebook Fan Page!

Click here to check it out!

NEW Home Learning Parties!

Organizing Just Got Fun!
Now Scheduling Home Learning Parties for Summer 2011
Gather your friends, choose a topic, learn, simplify AND earn free and half priced products from the Clever Container Company! To schedule your party, call Cheryl at 410-259-1466 or email cheryl@inorderforlife.com

My Favorite Things

Click here for my collection of favorites links for organizing products and other useful sites.

Reuse, Renew, and Recycle

Click here for useful tips and information to assist you in being environmentally friendly!

Proud Member of:

National Association of Professional Organizers