Category Archives for "Organizing Tips"

Keeping Your Home Organized Through Every Season by Organize My Space Calgary
Jun 01

Keeping Your Home Organized

By Noreen Music | Offers & Discounts , Organizing Resources , Organizing Tips

Keeping Your Home Organized Through Every Season

Have you decided this is your year to declutter the garage, the pantry and all of your closets? Good for you! 

Getting your home to an organizational level that works for you and your family is well worth the investment of your time, dollars and energy.

The benefits of getting rid of your clutter are numerous and life changing. You will have more time, find things fasters and spend less time lost looking for stuff. You will save money by not buying duplicates of items you can’t find.

You might even make some money by selling or consigning your no longer useful items. The peace of mind and reduced stress that decluttering and organizing brings is a game changer for your life.

Decluttering and organizing does takes planning, determination and commitment to see your home transformed. By arranging your families organizing projects by the seasons, the likelihood of completing all of your plans over time improves.

Finally Organized

The first and most important step when organizing any area is to minimize. Ask yourself what adds value to your life compared to what you don’t want, need or use. Once items are reduced, it is much easier to organize and arrange what’s left.

The second key to ultra-functional spaces is to keep like with like and knowing where everything is. Keep your daily essential items close at hand. Store away items you don’t need or use every day.

You can start organizing in any of your home however, we suggest you start with the easiest areas or projects first. Donate, consign & trash what you know can live without.

Another strategy is to start with the space that causes you the most frustration. When you get these quick wins under your belt, you will be super excited and motivated to keep going.

How Long Does It Take To Get Organized?

There are quite a few different factors to consider when determining how long each room or area will take to get organized. Some of these reasons are:

  • The size and layout of your home.
  • How long you have lived in your home.
  • The shopping habits of you and your family.
  • How much visible and hidden clutter there is.
  • Is anyone in the home is chronically disorganized or has a hard time letting go?
  • If someone in your home is a collector.
  • If everyone in the family is motivated and willing to declutter and get organized.
  • Decision making speed when decluttering.
  • Whether you get outside help from friends, family or a professional organizer.

Decluttering Principles

  • Keep only the belongings that are relevant to your life today & define your current vision.
  • Let go of items that point to your past or parts of yourself that you want to change.
  • Only hold onto things that make your heart sing and bring you joy.
  • Release objects that make you feel sad, guilty or unhappy with yourself or others.

Storage Principles

  • Items that are used more often should be stored within easy reach, preferably at eye level.
  • Things that are used infrequently and heavy should be stored below the waist.
  • Stuff seldom used and lighter should be stored above the head.

Basic Steps Of Organizing

  1. Remove everything
  2. Organize – put like with like
  3. Edit/declutter
  4. Clean space & keep items
  5. Containerize & label
  6. Return everything – put items where you use them

Getting Unstuck When Organizing

If you are stuck on whether to keep or get rid of an item, ask yourself these 7 questions (hint – if you say “No” to one, some or all of these questions, considering getting rid of it). The more of these decisions you make, the easier it gets:

  1. Have I used this in the last year?
  2. Will I use it in the next year?
  1. Would I buy this item again today?
  2. If it’s broken is it worth fixing or will I spare the time & money to fix it?
  3. Is it easily replaced or borrowed if I need it again?
  4. Would I keep it if I moved?
  5. Do I have a duplicate of this item in better shape?

If you are still agonizing over an item, put it in a box with a sticky note with an expiration date on it for a few months from now. If you don’t reach for the item in that time frame, remove it from your home.

Keeping Your Home Organized Through Every Season

You can start your home organizing journey any time of the year.

We suggest starting in the spring as this is typically the time of year you are more energized for a fresh start. The months of March, April and May are when we begin thinking of clearing out the dust and dreariness from the long, cold winter months.

There is excitement that winter is over and for the promise of summer ahead. So, take advantage of the burst of get-up-and-go that spring brings to kick start your organizing projects.

Now You Can Keep Your Home Organized Through Every Season!

We have prepared for you a comprehensive and easy to use FREE resource guide to help you organize your home through every season. Our Keeping Your Home Organized Through Every Season guide includes:

  • Ready to go checklists so you can easily transform cluttered spaces in a weekend.
  • Easy to use checklists for Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter so you never have to guess where to start.
  • Expert Tips that will have your friends begging you to tell them why your house looks so amazing.
  • Love living in your home again!

Get Started Right Away Transforming Your Spaces!

Please accept this limited time offered gift to help you get and stay organized through every season.

Click on this link to receive your FREE copy of our resource guide Keeping Your Home Organized Through Every Season as our gift to you!

Why Would You Give This Away For Free?

I get asked this question all the time. When you claim your copy of this amazing resource book, you will too.

I created this because I am on a mission to help people like you find your freedom through organized spaces. I know this resource will be exactly what some people will need to finally get and stay organized.

By gifting this incredible resource to you, it's my way of starting our relationship together on the right foot. I want to earn your trust so that I can help you find your freedom to live your life.

If you have a second, I'd love to know

Why did you request Keeping Your Home Organized Through Every Season?

What can we do to help you get more organized right now?

Just leave a comment below and I will reply back to you within 24 hours.

Don't forget to download your FREE copy of our resource guide Keeping Your Home Organized Through Every Season!

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen

Organizing Strategies for Kids
May 26

Organizing Strategies for Kids

By Noreen Music | Organizing Tips

Organizing Strategies for Kids

It is important to involve your kids in organizing strategies that involve their spaces.

When kids are involved in their “clean your room” projects they will better understand organizing logic and maintain their clean and organized spaces.

The age and stage of development of your child will influence their ability to understand these concepts and help with the organizing projects you want to tackle. You know your child best so tailor this advice to what suits your family and your child’s individual needs and preferences.

Pre-school and early school-age children are more than capable of starting to work with you on basic organizing principles.

When you get your child involved in getting and staying organized early on, you teach them valuable life-long skills that will set them up for success into adulthood.

First Steps

Help your child focus on what areas, spaces or systems need improvement by asking them:

  • What’s working for you?
  • What frustrates you?
  • What do you want to improve or change?

Once you identify the areas and changes that you and your child want to make, help them get to the root cause of the problem to come up with the best organizing solutions. 

Keep in mind that your priorities may differ from your children so try to create win/win solutions. 

Talk to your child about why getting organized is important. Focus their attention on the positives like what they are keeping as opposed to what they are letting go of.

Remind them that what they giveaway will go to a less fortunate child.

You may even want to consider having a garage sale and they get to keep the money from selling their stuff!

Create a simple action plan together. Plan time to work on these projects together in blocks of time dependant on their individual attention span. 

It may take longer to work with your child and complete everything rather than doing it while they are out of the house or sleeping, but it will pay off big time in the long run.

Teaching a child

Organizing Ideas

Hooks

Hooks are a child’s best friend. Use hooks for hats and coats at the backdoor, for clothes or PJ’s in their room and closet, for towels and their bathrobe in the bathroom, and so on.

Closets

Take the doors off their closet. For a small child, opening a closet door can be a challenge and it poses a barrier. If you want them to help put away their own clothes and get dressed with little to no help, having fewer barriers helps.

Lower the clothing rod. Again if your child has a hard time reaching their clothes, they are less likely to put their clothes away and to pick out an outfit to wear without your help.

Keep a basket in their closet for clothes that no longer fit and when it fills up, send it off to donation.

Put a few outfits together that they love. Not only will this help with saving time getting ready in the morning, but it reduces arguments as they have already chosen a few of their favourite outfits in advance.

Bins & Containers

Use clear bins with no lids. Kids need to be able to see exactly what goes where and what they have.

A lid is also another barrier that will ensure when it’s time to clean up, the toys don’t go back where they belong.

Easy access for your child is the whole point. Make it easy for them to put things away.

Picture labels (age dependant) are best. Get creative with pictures and colors to help your child know exactly where things go.

Organize from the bottom up - frequently used items should be kept on lower shelves or drawers.

Rolling carts are a great way of storing craft supplies.

Over the door closet organizers work wonders for shoes and toys.

Kids Organizing Strategies

Create Zones

Consider your child’s interests, abilities, and needs. Is it drawing, reading, music, puzzles, fort making, homework, etc.?

Talk with them about how all of their stuff should have a home. This will keep things tidy as they know where everything goes and makes clean up time a breeze.

When zones are established, this is a visual cue for your child and each zone is the ideal place to store items that will be used in that area.

The zones become the natural home for things to be found and where it goes when it’s time to put it away.

Zones also help to reduce distractions so your child can focus on one activity at a time and everything they need is right there.

Keep toys in certain areas of the house like your child’s room, a designated playroom, the backyard, or the family room.

Create “toy free zones” like the kitchen, dining room and your bedroom to contain the toy clutter from taking over the entire house.

Kids Zones

Quality Over Quantity

Children do better with less - they are far more creative and less overwhelmed when they have fewer choices.

Ask extended family members to respect limits on excessive gift-giving.

Consider buying experiences instead of stuff such as zoo or science centre passes, movie or kids theatre tickets, or a “date” to their favourite restaurant.

These memories and time together as a family are far more precious than the cheap, plastic toys they hardly play with.

When it’s your child's birthday or Christmas time, tuck away at least half (or more!) of the gifts they receive and bring them out one by one over the year.

Declutter toys and clothes that they have grown out of at least once or twice every year. I suggest you get in the habit of doing this with the change of seasons.

This will help them develop the skill and habit of letting go and they won’t end up with an overwhelming amount of toys and ill-fitting clothes.

Quality Over Quantity

Time Management

Time management is a powerful mental talent that your child can learn to know what’s important and when to do it.

Teaching your child to use their time effectively is a key foundational skill that will boost their success in school and in life.

When they finish their homework as soon as they get home from school or do their chores every Saturday morning before going outside or watching TV, they are learning precious time management skills.

Help your child to categorize their priorities into 3 groups. #1 priorities are essential and should be done first. #2 priorities are not critical and can be done when there is time. #3 priorities are optional.

Use a calendar to block all activities and reminders, homework time, chores, etc.

Decide how much time each task will take and when they will have the energy needed to get it done.

For instance, a big school project probably shouldn’t be done the Sunday night before it’s due and chores should be done before soccer practice not after.

Building-in flexibility, downtime and family time into your routines is essential.

Over-scheduling leaves no time to chill and have fun which can lead to exhausted and cranky kids.

When unforeseen obstacles aren’t allowed for in your kids schedule this can derail important plans and must do's.

Time to rest and spending time together is vital for each family member and will strengthen your family bonds.

Time Management for Kids

Family Command Centre

Check out this post for more information on how to set up a Family Command Centre.

https://organizemyspacecalgary.com/organize-your-familys-paper-clutter/

Safety

Safety for children is paramount.

Injuries can happen when you’re not paying attention, if your child is eager to help but they haven’t learned the skill, they don’t have the dexterity yet, your child is somewhere unfamiliar or if they are tired or hungry.

Always make sure there is nothing within reach that could harm them such as harmful cleaning chemicals, furniture that could topple, small items they can choke on, or sharp objects.

Keep cords out of reach, never place cribs, beds, playpens, or other furniture near a window where a cord is easily accessible, properly affix all furniture or larger items on shelves to prevent them from falling on the child.

For more information on safety around the house click on this link:

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/home-safety/safety-around-house.html

Kids Safety

Evaluate the Outcome

Any organizing plan once implemented needs to be reviewed to make sure it is effective. 

Keep in mind that your child’s organizing needs will evolve over time as they grow and change.

Regularly monitor and maintain your child’s organizing efforts and systems to keep things working for them.

Additional Resources

If you have challenges getting your family organized, here is our blog "5 Secrets to Organize Clutter When Your Family Doesn’t Agree".

https://organizemyspacecalgary.com/5-secrets-to-organize-clutter-when-your-family-doesnt-agree/

Need More Help?

Contact us by using the comment box below and we will respond back to you within 48 hours.

We are always here to help you and your child enjoy the freedom of organized spaces.

Cute Little Girl

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen

Don't Expect Progress Without An Organizing Plan
May 26

Don’t Expect Progress Without An Organizing Plan

By Noreen Music | Freedom Fridays , Organizing Tips

Do you struggle with clutter and disorganization?

Are you frustrated by not getting things done? 

Is it overwhelming to think about creating an organizing plan?

Have you always wanted to make progress on clearing your clutter?

You need an organizing plan.

Don't Expect Progress Without An Organizing Plan

Decluttering and organizing takes planning, determination, and commitment to see your home transformed.

Don't expect progress without an organizing plan.

When you make the decision to eliminate the clutter and disorganization that frustrates and overwhelms you, upfront thought and planning are key to transform your space once and for all.

By creating an organizing plan, the likelihood of making progress and completing all of your projects over time improves.

Elements of An Organizing Plan

Step One: COMMIT

Commit to do something about it – this is an important first step.

Remember to take before and after photos to keep track of your progress and to keep you motivated!

Step Two: GOALS

Think about your goals and how you want your spaces to look and feel as you move about in your home.

Plan your spaces to serve you and how you want to live.

Come back to your organizing plan if your motivation wavers and you need a little push to keep going.

Step Three: DECIDE

Decide in advance where you want your unwanted items to go.

There are a lot of options for donation, online selling, consignment, or landfill (as a last resort).

We have done most of the research for you here on our DIY resources page.

Step Four: START IN ONE AREA

Start small.

Begin with a manageable project such as your junk drawer, linen closet or bookshelf.

Or you can start with your top 3 most important areas to declutter and rank the rest of your rooms or areas from highest to lowest.

You can rank whole rooms or areas within rooms to break it down in more manageable chunks.

Step Five: TOOLS

Ensure you have what you need to start.

Items such as boxes (donate/sell/keep/doesn’t belong), garbage bags for trash & recycling, and cleaning supplies.

Step Six: GET HELP

Ask a friend or family member to help or hire a professional organizer.

Step Seven: BOOK TIME

Book 2-3-hour blocks of time in your calendar when you typically have the most energy to ensure you stay on track and accomplish the projects you want done.

Even 20-30 minutes each time will go a long way over time.

Step Eight: REDUCE DISTRACTIONS

Reduce distractions – get a babysitter, put the dog in another room, turn off your phone/TV, make sure no one is dropping by.

Music to get you pumped up is totally okay though!

Step Ten: CELEBRATE

Celebrate your hard work on your decluttering journey and enjoy the freedom of living with less!

Once you have completed your organizing projects, it is important to assess and evaluate how your new organizational systems are working for you based on your original organizing plan.

Tweak if need be.

We Are Here to Help

Do you need more help from a Professional Organizer to create a unique organizing plan for you? Use the comment box below to connect with me.

As an organizing expert I help clients through the organizing process with an expertly prepared plan. I will share with you all of my insider tips and tools so you can become free from the clutter and disorganization that causes you stress.

Need more inspiration? Check out our posts on 7 Tips to Conquer Your Clutter and How to Organize Any S.P.A.C.E.

We are here to help you find renewed freedom and passion in your life.

All you need is an organizing plan to make progress!

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen

5 Secrets to Organize Clutter When Your Family Doesn't Agree
May 05

5 Secrets to Organize Clutter When Your Family Doesn’t Agree

By Noreen Music | Freedom Fridays , Organizing Tips

5 Secrets to Organize Clutter When Your Family Doesn’t Agree

Every Family is Dynamic and Diverse

Does your family disagree on how much clutter is too much? Do you have a hard time organizing the clutter in your home so it works for everyone?

Your family is dynamic and different from every other family. The various strengths, challenges, and personalities within your family make it unique. You are a family unit and yet at the same time you are different from each other.

Those differences bring a diversity of perspectives into your home and can make organizing your clutter a challenge.

It may be that you and your family don’t agree on how clutter should be organized. I get it. My family and I don’t always agree either, although I’m usually the one who’s right. I am the Professional Organizer after all, right?! Ugh wrong.

We each have various needs and different ideas about how much clutter is acceptable and what we are comfortable with.

You may like things tucked away out of sight while your kids need clear, open bins to see where everything goes. Your spouse might like to display his prized beer mug collection and you, well, not so much.

We all land somewhere on the clutter scale. Being at one end or the other or somewhere in between isn't right or wrong, it just is what it is.

Different Learning Styles

Another factor that can play into disagreements around how to organize your families clutter stems from the fact that we all learn differently.

There are kinaesthetic, tactile, visual, and auditory learners.

When putting an organizational system in place, take these learning styles into account so that the end result works for everyone.

The same organizing system may work quite well for each family member but different cues are needed to make it effective for each person.

For example, the visual learner needs to see a bill to be reminded to pay it and does well with charts. A person who learns best by hearing may need a calendar ding or a voice recording reminder.

5 Secrets to Organize Clutter When Your Family Doesn’t Agree

Secret One

Understand yourself and who you are living with.

What type of learner are you? How about your kids or spouse? 

Find creative ways to compromise with each other when setting up organizational systems.

You will actually be less frustrated because your family will embrace the new system if their needs are respected as well as your own.

A win/win is always better than a win/loss and your clutter gets organized!

Secret Two

Get everyone involved. This is critical.

Agree together what your greatest areas of concern are when it comes to how your home functions and talk about what each family members priorities are. 

When your family discusses and plans your organizing projects together, you will have more buy-in and help to get it done.

Establish a plan with a budget in mind and schedule the time to work on organizing projects together.

It is always better to encourage "skin in the game" than forcing your ideas, or doing it all by yourself, and then getting frustrated when clutter returns and things don’t stay organized.

Secret Three

Don’t be too quick to say no to an idea.

If one of your family has what they think is a great idea and they are excited to implement it, why not try it? 

Be sensitive to the needs of others. The worst thing that can happen is that it doesn’t work well and you have to tweak it later. The best thing that can happen is that it might be really awesome!

Secret Four

Let go of perfect or “it’s not good enough”.

Trust me, very few homes or organizing systems are perfect. You don’t live in an Ikea catalog and neither do your neighbors! 

Comparison and perfectionism are real joy killers.

Surround yourself with colors, accessories, and stuff that you LOVE. It doesn’t have to match or go perfectly together. It doesn’t have to be the latest organizing product from Bed, Bath & Beyond. ​

Repurpose and use what you already have on hand as long as you need it, use it, love it and it does the job for your family.

For instance, one of my all-time favorite desk drawer organizers is the white box that your iPhone comes in. Really, try it and you'll see what I mean.

Secret Five

Keep your organizing strategies simple and functional. Don’t over complicate your organizing efforts.

The simpler your family systems are, the more likely you will all stick with it over the long haul and stay organized over time.

Overcomplicating the end result will only lead to frustration and disorganization. 

Organizing Your Families Clutter With Diversity in Mind

Organizing clutter with each of your families diverse needs in mind will bring mental and emotional well being to you and your family, not to mention a better functioning home so you can have more fun and downtime together.

If the clutter in your home is leaning more towards a chronically disorganized state, it might be best to work with a professional organizer who can help with understanding why you accumulate stuff, provide you with effective strategies for letting go and teach you how to stay organized.

We Are Here to Help

If you have a question, fill out the comment box below and I will get back to you within 48 hours.

You may find this blog post about organizing your families paper clutter helpful as paper is one of the biggest challenges we see families deal with.

Another post that will help you conquer your clutter is our 7 tips to conquer  your clutter.

Take good care and if you need us, we are here to help.

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen

FB - How to Organize Your Paper Clutter
Mar 31

Organize Your Family’s Paper Clutter

By Noreen Music | Organizing Tips

How to Organize Your Family's Paper Clutter

Paper Clutter Challenges

Are there piles of unsorted paper all over your house and things get buried and lost?

Paper clutter is one of the most challenging and prevalent forms of clutter in our homes.

One of the main differences between managing paper at the office and your family's paper clutter is that there is many different sources, sizes and topics of paper making its way into your home.

Think of your children's artwork, junk mail, newspapers, school papers, magazines, notices, bills, vital documents and more!

Read on to discover how to organize your family's paper clutter.

Paper Organizing Strategies

Types of Incoming Paper

Even though each family member contributes differently to the paper clutter in your home, paper tends to fall under one of these categories:

  • Urgent or time sensitive
  • General information or current activities
  • Reference
  • Archive

To properly deal with the incoming flow of paper and organize your family's paper clutter, it is important to implement a system that takes into consideration each of these different types of information.

Decluttering Your Paper

Before you organize your family's paper clutter, the first step is to edit the quantity of papers you keep. This means going through each and every piece of paper and asking yourself these questions:

  • Does this need action?
  • Is this information recent enough to be useful?
  • Would I use it again?
  • Is it difficult to obtain again?
  • When was the last time I used it?
  • Is there a tax or legal reason for keeping this?
  • Does it belong with my memorabilia?

Once you have sorted and organized all of your family's paper clutter, you are ready to set up your paper management system.

Did you know that we generally only refer to 20% of the information we keep 80% of the time? Be brutal with what paper you hold on to.

Paper Management System

When you are setting up your family's paper management system to capture and sort all incoming paper, think through these questions first:

  • What types of paper do we deal with?
  • Who brings in the paper?
  • Where should the paper management system go so paper coming into the house will land there?
  • Who has the main responsibility to oversee the paper management system?
  • How do I ensure my family members use the system?

It is important to be clear on what kinds of paper your system needs to be designed to handle and who will be using it before you decide what your system will look like.

Having one person ultimately in control of ensuring your system is being used by family members and that the papers are being dealt with will ensure your paper management system will continue to flow well.

Organizing your family's paper clutter is a group effort but it generally lies on one parent or the other to keep the paper in order.

Family Command Centre

Every family should have a family command centre to contain your family's paper clutter. The main purpose of it is to keep the family on track by providing a place to keep note of appointments, meetings, activities, weekly meals, the grocery list amongst other things. 

The main components and supplies needed for a robust family command centre includes:

Main Components:

  • Calendar (paper or electronic)
  • Chore chart
  • Phone book with emergency numbers
  • Information binder
  • Daily tickler file ("action" file)
  • Reference files
  • Archive files

Supplies:

  • Clock
  • Recycle bin nearby
  • Storage baskets
  • Pens, pencils, highlighters, sticky notes, note pads
  • Calculator
  • Family computer or tablet
  • Hooks for keys
  • Bulletin board (this is a great spot for your grocery list!)

Pick a high traffic and convenient spot in your house for your family command centre and use it to organize everything. It doesn't have to be fancy, just functional for your family's unique needs.

It will become the place where everyone goes to see what's going on with everyone else and your family's paper clutter will disappear!

Calendar

The calendar has all of your family's activities written or keyed in including activities for each family member, family birthdays and other important dates, holidays, reminders, doctor and dentist appointments and meal planning information.

Chore Chart

Use a chore chart to help your kids become more responsible and to help out around the house more as they grow. You can tie your child's allowance, screen time or other rewards to help motivate them to complete all of their chores.

There are so many great ideas online for different and creative chore charts so do a little research and implement one that your kids can help create and that they will stick to.

Information Binder

Your information binder is for current but not date specific reference materials such as game schedules, school contacts, team lists and so on.

You could also include important family, doctor, vet, dentist and emergency phone numbers in your information binder instead of using a separate phone book.

Daily Tickler File

Things that are date specific like school field trip permission forms, party invites, bills to pay, prescription receipts to submit, medical requisitions, etc. all go into your tickler file which is checked daily.

Your tickler file is for holding all "in progress" or pending paper - think of putting paper here that is categorized as ACT, PAY, READ, WRITE, CALL, PENDING.

Reference Files

Papers that are useful but not urgent go into your reference files. This is where home and auto insurance policies go, receipts, warranties, report cards, last and current year income tax information, medical records, paid bills to keep.

Many of these items can also be scanned and kept in electronic format to save on the amount of paper you keep in your reference files.

Reference files should be cleaned out once a year. This will ensure your family's paper clutter will not accumulate.

Archive Files

Archive files include tax returns, legal documents, property deeds, life insurance policies, old employment records, photos, memorabilia.

Paper versions of these types of documents generally must be kept.  

You could consider putting these archive files in a water and fire proof safe in case of a disaster.

Paper Filing System Examples

You can set up your reference and archive files numerically, alphabetically or by category. Here is how a home filing system might be categorized:

Reference Files
  • Child Care
  • Decorating Ideas
  • Employment
  • Activities
  • Family & Friends
  • Health
  • Memberships
  • Pets
  • Subscriptions
  • Travel
  • Warranties & Manuals
Financial Files
  • Auto
  • Banking
  • Budget
  • Credit Cards
  • Insurance
  • Investments
  • Utilities
Vital Documents
  • Birth Certificate
  • Education Records
  • Health Records
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Passport
  • Tax Documents
  • Life Insurance Policy
  • Wills
  • House Deed

These are suggested categories and names of files for you to use however, the key to creating a filing system that works for you is to name a file with the first word that comes into your mind. That way it will be easier for you to remember where you filed something and it won't take long to find what you need.

You can also colour code your files by category so it is easy to see, files are a breeze to put away and it just looks great!

Keep on Top of Your Family's Paper Clutter

Deal with incoming mail and paper every day.

Open the mail, put the bills you need to pay in your tickler file and recycle the envelope and inserts.

Have the kids take out their school papers from their backpacks every day and put the papers where they belong in your new family command centre.

Reduce your family's paper clutter by going electronic! Have your bills come to your email inbox instead of your mailbox.

Unsubscribe from newsletters, publications, magazines that you never get the chance to read. Go digital by reading the newspaper and your favourite magazines online.

Let us know how we can help you.....

We hope you enjoyed learning about how to organize your family's paper clutter and that you are motivated to conquer your paper mountain!

You might also like to read another one of our most popular articles called "7 Tips to Conquer Your Clutter". 

Leave us a comment if you have any questions or if you need help with organizing your family's paper clutter.

We are always here to help.

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen

Takes less time to clean an organized home
Mar 20

Save Time Cleaning an Organized Home

By Noreen Music | Freedom Fridays , Organizing Tips

Save Time Cleaning an Organized Home

Reducing clutter and getting organized saves a ton of time when you need to clean your home.

Did you know that for every 1 hour you organize, you save 2 hours of time?  WOW.

What if I told you that an organized home takes 40% less time to clean?

You're in right?!?

Get a handle on the clutter in your home to save time cleaning

The fastest way to save time on cleaning your home is to get rid of all of the obvious trash and recycling. Go thru every room with a trash bag in hand and start picking up what you know belongs in the garbage or recycle bin.

The next step is to pick up all of the dirty dishes laying around and put them in the dishwasher or wash them by hand and put them away.

Do you have soiled laundry lying around on the chair in your bedroom or on the bathroom floor? Pick it all up and put it in the hamper or better yet put a load in the washing machine.

Now go room by room picking up what you know doesn't belong in that space like the kids toys or books. Tidy up as you go, fluff pillows, fold blankets.

You are ready to save time cleaning!

Minimize Dust

  • Now that you have reduced clutter, you can dust your home properly.
  • Clean light fixtures, windows, blinds and shelves first and then work downwards.
  • Allow time for the dust to settle before vacuuming.

Keep Your Kitchen & Bathrooms Clean

  • Wash and disinfect your kitchen sink as e-coli is commonly found lurking there.
  • Clean and disinfect kitchen counter tops to keep germs and crumbs at bay.
  • Wipe down bathroom mirrors, sinks and countertops daily.
  • Clean and disinfect bathroom shower stalls, bathtubs, sinks and toilets weekly.

Clean From the Top Down

  • When cleaning, mop the floor or vacuum the carpet last. 

Clean as you go


  • Make your bed every morning.
  • Deal with paperwork and mail on a daily basis.
  • Clean up as you cook.
  • Tidy up at the end of the day - fold the living room blankets, do the dinner dishes, have the kids put their toys away.
  • Fold and put laundry away immediately after it comes out of the dryer.
  • Hang clothes up or put them in the laundry hamper as soon as you change your clothes.

A clean house is important for the health and well-being of your entire family. A clean home is a healthy home. 

Living in a clean and organized home makes you feel happy, but more importantly, it eliminates the stress that's caused by a chaotic environment.

And of course by living without clutter, you will save time cleaning.

More resources for you

Here is a link to an article posted in our Freedom Living blog about All-Natural Homemade Cleaning Products to help keep your home chemical free.

If you have any questions or need help with decluttering and getting organized, leave us a comment below and we will get back to you within 48 hours.

We are always here for you.

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen

Clearing Clutter Makes Space
Mar 20

Clearing Clutter Makes Space

By Noreen Music | Freedom Fridays , Organizing Tips

Clearing Clutter Makes Space for What Freedom Means to You

What does being free from clutter mean?

Freedom is a powerful word. It means you have choices and space to breathe.

It also stands for your right to live your true purpose and not be burdened by what doesn't serve you.

Freedom allows you to choose how you live your life and what brings you happiness without feeling constrained by clutter and disorganization.

Freedom means your life flows easily and you are not prevented from doing what gives you joy.

What are the impacts of living in a cluttered space?

Being surrounded by clutter can literally choke the air from your space.

It takes away your ability to develop and progress. It limits your ability to move forward and achieve your dreams.

Clutter takes a toll on your mental health & well being. You experience feelings of guilt, shame and embarrassment and these negative emotions can become the only way you live in your home.

Clearing clutter to make space for freedom

Clearing clutter allows you to decide how you spend your time, your money and your energy.

Organizing and clearing clutter does more than just make your home look clean. It lowers your stress levels, helps you sleep and take better care of yourself. It gives you energy to get more accomplished.

You are not a slave to your stuff - physically, physiologically, financially.

Your life is worth so much more than the piles of paper or mountains of clothes that surround you.

“Freedom is the oxygen of the soul.” – Moshe Dayan

How can we help you clear clutter and find what freedom means to you?

When your clutter is gone you can accomplish daily tasks more easily and with fewer obstacles.

Living with this kind of liberating freedom is within your reach.

What clutter do you need to clear to make space for what freedom means to you?

Maybe one idea is all you need? Check out our  DIY resources we have gathered to make it easier for you.

You can always let us know how we can help - we are always here for you.

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen

All Natural Homemade Cleaning Products
Mar 08

All-Natural Homemade Cleaning Products

By Noreen Music | Organizing Tips

All-Natural Homemade Cleaning Products


Toxic chemicals are all around us from toiletries and cosmetics, pesticides on our food and the store bought household cleaners we use in our homes every day.

The average home contains an average of 62 toxic substances - many of which have been linked to asthma, cancer, reproductive disorders, hormone disruption and neurotoxicity.

The good news is there is a lot we can do to limit our exposure to these chemicals. One great idea is to make your own all-natural homemade cleaning products.

Not only will your home be safer but you will spend a lot less money on your day to day cleaning products.

It takes a bit of time and effort to make these all natural homemade cleaning products but the results are well worth it!

Some of the Toxic Ingredients in Cleaning Chemicals



Chlorine Bleach

Bleach fumes can contain chlorine and chloroform, which have been linked to respiratory and neurological effects and cancer. Bleach is very reactive and can form other dangerous gases when it comes in contact with ammonia or acids such as vinegar.

Formaldehyde

Used as a preservative, formaldehyde is a known carcinogen.

Ammonia

Ammonia is a respiratory and skin irritant.

Fragrance

This commonly found ingredient listed as “fragrance” may contain hundreds of various chemical compounds, including phthalates, an endocrine disruptor. Fragrances may also trigger asthma and allergies.

Safe All-Natural Cleaning Ingredients

Many of the cleaning tasks in your home can be handled with these safe, all-natural and easy to find ingredients - many of them you have in your home right now!

We have listed the most popular all-natural and non-toxic ingredients you can use alone or in combination together.

Baking Soda

Baking soda cleans, deodorizes, softens water and gently scours.

Lemons

One of the strongest food acids, lemon juice works great against most household bacteria.

Salt

Use salt to clean cast iron or combined with lime to remove rust.

White Vinegar

White vinegar can be used to not only cut grease but remove mildew, odours and some stains.

When to Skip Vinegar: Never use vinegar solutions on stone surfaces such as granite or marble, cast iron, aluminum, or waxed surfaces. The acid in the vinegar can etch, pit, and strip finishes or otherwise damage these surfaces.

Cornstarch

Use cornstarch to clean windows and deep clean carpets.

Castile Soap

It is available in liquid or bar form and helps rinse dirt away. It's made with olive oil or a vegetable base and is available unscented or scented.

Hydrogen Peroxide

A disinfectant normally used for cuts, hydrogen peroxide can also be used for disinfecting in the kitchen or bathroom. It has a mild bleaching effect which helps to remove stains on fabrics and grout.

Hint: You can also use hydrogen peroxide to disinfect your toothbrush.

Easy Recipes for All-Natural Homemade Cleaning Products



General All-Purpose Cleaner

Mix 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1 tbsp baking soda and 10 drops of your favourite essential oil into 1 litre warm water in a clean, glass spray bottle. Use for removal of hard water stains and disinfecting showers, chrome fixtures, kitchen surfaces.

Dish Soap

Mix 3 tbsp liquid Castile soap, 2 cups warm water, 2 tsp glycerine, 2 tbsp white vinegar and 10 drops of your favourite essential oil.

Bathroom Mold Deterrent

Mix one part hydrogen peroxide with two parts water in a clean, glass spray bottle and spray on areas with mold. Wait at least one hour before rinsing or using the shower.

Ceramic or Glass Stovetop Cleaner

For stuck on food, wet the area with hot soapy water and sprinkle with baking soda. Cover with a damp towel and allow to stand for half an hour before wiping with a clean damp cloth.

Chopping Block Cleaner

Rub a 1/2 lemon across a chopping block to disinfect the surface.

Marks on Walls and Painted Surfaces

Fingerprints, crayon or marker spots can be cleaned from painted surfaces with baking soda applied to a damp sponge. Rub gently, before wiping clean.

Mold and Mildew

Use white vinegar or lemon juice full strength.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Mix 1/4 cup baking soda, 1 cup white vinegar and 10 drops of your favourite essential oil, pour into toilet bowl and let it sit for a few minutes. Scrub with a toilet brush and rinse.

Tub and Tile Cleaner

Rub in baking soda with a damp sponge and rinse with fresh water.

Window Cleaner

For a streak free and easy to use window cleaner, mix 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1 tbsp cornstarch, 2 cups of warm water in a clean, glass spray bottle.

NOTE: All homemade cleaning products should be labelled with the full list of ingredients, how to use and what to do if swallowed, skin becomes irritated after contact or accidentally splashed in the eyes.


Healthy Home Cleaning Routines


Minimize Dust

  • Declutter as clutter makes it more difficult to dust your home properly. 
  • Keep your shoes at the door on a washable mat.
  • Keep humidity low and vacuum regularly.
  • Wash bedding weekly in hot water.

Keep Your Kitchen & Bathrooms Clean

  • Wash and disinfect your kitchen sink daily as e-coli is commonly found lurking there.
  • Clean and disinfect kitchen counter tops daily to keep germs and crumbs at bay.
  • Wipe down bathroom mirrors, sinks and countertops daily.
  • Clean and disinfect bathroom shower stalls, bathtubs, sinks and toilets weekly.

Clean From the Top Down

  • When cleaning, do the floor or carpet last. 
  • Clean light fixtures, windows, blinds and shelves first and then work downwards.
  • Allow time for the dust to settle before vacuuming.

Clean As You Go

  • Make your bed every morning.
  • Deal with paperwork and mail on a daily basis.
  • Clean up as you cook.
  • Tidy up at the end of the day - fold the living room blankets, do the dinner dishes, have the kids put their toys away.
  • Fold and put laundry away immediately after it comes out of the dryer.
  • Hang clothes up or put them in the laundry hamper as soon as you change your clothes.

Clean Up After Pets

  • Keep your pet brushed to cut down on fur balls and vacuum often.
  • Train them to go on only certain pieces of furniture.
  • A blanket on the sofa for them to lie on is easier to clean regularly than a sofa cushion.


These are the all-natural homemade cleaning products and basic cleaning routines we recommend to keep your home beautifully clean and your family safe from the toxins in over the counter cleaning chemicals.


Leave us a comment below with your favourite homemade cleaning products!

For more helpful DIY suggestions and resources, check out our Do it Yourself page.

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen

7 Tips to Conquer Your Clutter
Feb 25

7 Tips to Conquer Your Clutter

By Noreen Music | Organizing Tips

7 Tips to Conquer Your Clutter

Do you have clutter in your home that needs to be dealt with? Does it bother you to walk into the garage or basement and be faced with all of your stuff?  

If you answered "YES!" to having clutter in your home that you want to conquer, read on.

As a professional organizer, here are my 7 tips to help you conquer your clutter.

Tip #1 - Write Down Your Vision

When you have a clear picture of how you want your spaces to look and feel after you have completed the organizing process, this gives you something positive to work towards. It's also easier to stay motivated when you have the end goal in mind.

Your home is meant to be the place where you feel relaxed and comfortable at the end of the day so ask yourself....

  1. Why is it important for me to declutter?
  2. How do I want to feel in my home?
  3. What makes me happy?
  4. What do I most want to accomplish?
  5. How will getting organized improve my life?
Bonus Tip: Remember that your home is your home. If you like things minimal with everything tucked away, awesome. If you prefer more of your treasures, books or photos on display, that's cool too. We all have an acceptable level of clutter that works for us. The key is to find your sweet spot.
Tip #2 - Come Up With a Plan

In order to turn your vision into a reality, you need a plan. 

List the spaces you want to tackle and in what order. 

Do you need to have a conversation and get input about decluttering with your spouse or family? Talk about your vision and expectations so they help, not hinder, the process.

Set mini goals for yourself. When you accomplish a goal, celebrate it as a win! Reward yourself in a way that won't add more clutter to your home. Think of experiences like a home spa treatment, a Saturday afternoon nap, coffee with a friend, or a long walk in nature.

Give yourself a realistic deadline to have your organizing project completed. This will depend on how much time you are willing to devote to decluttering, how much stuff you have and your energy level.  

Enlist a friend who also wants to declutter to become your declutter buddy. You can help each other get organized plus stay motivated by having an accountability partner. Don't forget to take before and after photos so you can share your successes on social media and inspire others!

Bonus Tip: If you run out of steam, remember your vision! You will never regret getting organized by conquering your clutter.
Tip #3 - Schedule Time to Declutter

Block your calendar when you know you have the most energy and decision making power. It could be first thing in the morning, just after lunch or in the evening. Schedule your decluttering when you will be the most effective at getting it done.

In between your longer decluttering sessions, try doing small bursts like your junk drawer. Set a timer for 10-15 minutes and just get it done!

Be consistent with decluttering. Your spaces didn't get cluttered overnight and they won't get organized overnight either.

Bonus Tip: The more you conquer clutter, the more motivated you will be to keep these appointments with yourself. You will love the time and energy this process frees up for the fun, healthy, creative and passionate pursuits you want in your calendar instead!
Tip #4 - Decide Where You Want Your Items To Go

Decide in advance where you want your items to go. There are a lot of options for donation, online selling, consignment or landfill (as a last resort).

Keep in mind that what you think something is worth is not always what someone else is willing to pay for your used stuff. Think of the good you will do for people in your community who need the donated items you no longer want or need.

We have already taken the work out of researching where your used goods can go. Check out our DIY Organizing Resources page for more information.

Bonus Tip: Only donate what doesn't belong in the recycling or garbage bin. Items that are missing pieces, stained, damaged or broken should not be donated. Charities don't have the extra resources needed to deal with your trash so please keep this in mind when donating!
Tip #5 - Where to Start

Start with the one area that frustrates you the most. Or alternatively you could start with one of the easiest areas of the home to organize like the bathroom or linen closet.

Next, look at easy decisions like removing obvious garbage or items that should be recycled.

Remove anything that has missing pieces or is broken that you don't use and won't repair.

If you have duplicates, pick the best one and get rid of the other one.

Begin with surface clutter before moving on to hidden clutter in cupboards and drawers.

Ask yourself - do I need it, use it or love it?  If the answer is no, let it go.

Bonus Tip: Make it fun! Put on your favourite music and get the kids involved by making a game out of it to see who can declutter more.  
Tip #6 - Use the S.P.A.C.E Method

S.P.A.C.E is an easy way to remember how to organize any space!

The S.P.A.C.E acronym stands for:

S = Sort
Gather all similar items together that should or can be stored together. Having similar items in multiple locations can cause confusion and clutter. This also allows you to visually see what and how much you have.

P = Purge
This is the process of going thru your items one by one and deciding what you want to keep. Ask yourself - do I need it, use it or love it? The items you let go of should be boxed up into donate, sell, recycle/garbage and be dealt with right away.

A = Assign
Now that you are left with only the items you need, use or love, it is time to assign a place for everything. It makes sense to keep things where you use them. Creating zones also helps such as a craft zone, reading area, paperwork zone, etc.

C = Containerize / Label
Containers and labels make it easy to keep all of your items grouped together in their proper home. This step makes it easy to retrieve your items, you know exactly what you have, you won't accumulate more than you need and putting things back is easy because you know where it belongs.

E = Evaluate
This is a critical step in the organizing process. It takes a lot of effort to get your spaces organized and you don't want to end up disorganized and cluttered again. Revisit your systems to make sure they work for you. If they don't, modify them.

Bonus tip: Here is our blog post How to Organize Any Space which includes a great infographic on the S.P.A.C.E method.
Tip #7 - Keep it Up

Establish regular routines to keep your home clutter free. 

Tidy up and do the dishes before you go to bed at night. 

Fold and put your laundry away as soon as it comes out of the dryer. 

Keep a clothing "DONATE" bag and every time you find something in your closet you no longer want, put it there.

Limit what comes into your home. Follow the one in two out rule.

Examine your shopping habits and gift giving/receiving practices. 

Do bigger decluttering sessions with the seasons. In the spring, clean out all of the closets. In the summer, clean out the shed and garage. In the fall, clean out the kids rooms to get them ready for school. In the winter, clean out the basement and under the stairs.

Bonus Tip: Did you know it takes 40% less time to clean an organized home? Clutter is a time stealer!
What is your most challenging part of conquering clutter?

Which one of these tips was most helpful for you?  

We would love to hear from you so please comment below.


Need more help with your organizing project? Call (587) 889-7198 or email us at info@organizemyspacecalgary.com or leave a comment below.

We are always here to help you.

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen

How to get your email inbox to zero
Feb 25

How to Get Your Email Inbox to Zero

By Noreen Music | Organizing Tips

How to get your email inbox to zero...and keep it that way!

If I were to ask you right now "How many emails do you have in your inbox?" what would you say? 50? 150? 300? 7,000? 

If you have over 50-100 unprocessed emails in your inbox, chances are this is causing you to be unproductive and experience email overwhelm.

Now imagine your email inbox has zero emails in it. 

Does that change your feeling of being overwhelmed to being in control of your workload?

What if you had a simple formula to get your email inbox to zero and keep it that way for good?   

This would be a game changer for you and how you feel about your work.

People who make a daily practice of keeping their email inbox clean are in control of their tasks and deadlines. They are in the loop with internal and external communications. Leaving the office on time without stressing about what might be buried in all of those emails is something they enjoy.

Sounds great, right?

Follow these simple steps and you will get your email inbox to zero and keep it that way....for good.

STEP ONE: Mass Deleting & Filing

The fact is, at least 80% of your emails do not require any real significant action on your part so get comfortable using the delete button. A word of caution however....be ruthless but not reckless with deleting. DO NOT read each email in its entirety - at this stage you are focusing on weeding out all of the unnecessary noise and the emails you don't need to do anything with.

Sort & delete emails by FROM - Ask yourself these questions - has this person left the company, is the project over or is it the fridge cleaning notice from 4 months ago?

Sort & delete emails by SUBJECT - Do you have email strings from a group conversation that you can delete except the last one? Has a date or event already passed and is no longer relevant? Do you have emails from retailers or blogs that you never read (hint unsubscribe from these please)?

Sort & file emails by DATE - If you have many months worth of emails, the chances are pretty good that anything over 6 months can be safely bulk filed in an "EMAIL BONEYARD" reference file.  If you haven't needed anything from this folder in another 6-8 weeks, delete it.

STEP TWO: Processing Emails One by One

Now that you have mass filed and deleted, you should only have about 20% of your email backlog left. This is where you sit down and process each email one by one.  Use the D is for Decision method:

  • Delete it or file it.
  • Do it now, if it takes less than 2-5 minutes.
  • Do it later by sliding the email into your task list or writing it on your to-do list.
  • Decide if it should be filed for reference or future use.
  • Delegate it to someone else to do.
  • Defer the decision by adding it to your task list or calendar.
  • Decide if you need to follow up with someone or track if someone else follows through.


When you make one of these decisions for each and every email, your email inbox will be at zero.

How to keep your email inbox at zero

Now that you are on top of your email inbox and no longer scrolling up and down wasting precious hours a day and stressing about what you are missing or not getting done, here is how you keep your emails at zero.

STEP ONE: Set Up Processing Folders

Action Folder - This is where every email goes that you are actually working on NOT sitting in your inbox. Emails here should only take 2-5 minutes to deal with. Emails that take longer to work on go into your task/project list.

Read Folder - This is for those emails that you need to read but they can wait until later. Use unproductive time like waiting in line or at the doctor's office to do your reading.

Holding Folder - This folder is where emails go while you are waiting on someone else to do something or you're waiting for an answer, a quote, etc.  This folder can also be used to remind yourself to send reminders to other people.

STEP TWO: Set Up Reference Folders

Set up reference folders into larger buckets with NO sub-folders (and definitely no sub-sub-folders). A smaller number of folders ensures you make quicker decisions about where to file an email when you are processing your inbox plus it leaves fewer options and makes it easier to look for an email in the future.

STEP THREE: Process Emails 1-3x a Day

Your email inbox is where new emails land and are waiting for you to process them, that's it.

Schedule in your calendar 1-3 times a day to keep your inbox at zero. Resist the urge to check your emails at any other time unless you are expecting an urgent message. We only do this to procrastinate on work, when our brains have decision fatigue or to look busy. 

Clear the handful of emails that have accumulated in your inbox since the last time you checked using the D method and you will always be at zero!

For more productivity secrets, check out our post Top 10 Productivity Secrets to really boost your confidence at work!

Need help getting organized at work? Go to our business organizing page and check out our 4P Productivity Program and coaching services or call us at (587) 889-7198. 

We are always here to help you.

Find your freedom.
Live your life.

Noreen