Archive for June, 2010

Step Into Our Jewelry Box

 

Full of watches, earrings, necklaces, bangles, rings, brooches (and who knows what else?) jewelry boxes are treasure boxes.  And, as a result, editing their content is a bit more daunting than say editing the contents of a medicine cabinet.  

Jewelry has meaning.  And it’s often meant to endure.  Gifts, generational hand-me-downs, and expensive pieces are especially hard to part with. There’s also fashion jewelery that seems to accumulate exponentially (those inexpensive costume-like pieces that show up on every street corner and in every other boutique).  And because these items take-up little space the need to de-clutter jewelry can seem non-existent.    

But the semi-precious truth is this: these spaces deserve to sparkle! 

 

Jewelry instantly changes the tone of an outfit and provides opportunities to show-off ones truly unique self.  Wouldn’t it be nice to know your rolling stones are easily accessible and not buried under piles of useless junk?  The frustration of planning an outfit only to discover the absence of a beloved earring is scream worthy. 

Consider these gems: 

*Step out of the box – Find other ways to store and display 

Over the door

On a peg board (a bulletin board also works!)

On a jewelry tree

In a multipurpose closet organizer

In a separate all-inclusive unit (this piece doubles as a full length mirror!)

Flaunt it as art

*Use products designed specifically to separate items 

Drawer organizer

Bead organizer (these can be purchased at the dollar store)

*If you have a mound of necklaces tangled into one piece follow these steps: 

a) Breathe 

b) Lay the necklaces on a flat surface 

c) Use your fingers to identify where the knot is located (if you are untangling delicate jewelry, you can use a straight pin) 

d) Focus on one area of the knot and slowly try to guide the piece you are working on out (this takes time and patience) 

e) If the material of the necklaces allow, you can use a few drops of baby oil to loosen the knot. Using the straight pin at this point is also helpful as it can access very small, tight spaces. 

f) Take note of the frustration and separate or HANG your necklaces from now on! 

  

* Use vinegar to clean most jewelry (excluding pearls and opals) by soaking the items for 1 hour. This household item can be used for many cleaning situations. 

*Consider melting or modifying existing jewelry to create unique signature pieces.  Jewelry has major sentimental value but what good is it stashed away?  Sell, re-gift, and re-invent and you’re golden.

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June 29, 2010 at 7:52 pm 8 comments

Step Back to the Beginning

While assisting a customer in a large and ongoing closet organization project we were asked “What’s your method? I’ve been holding onto this stuff for years, daunted by the thought of having to go through it. How do you two make it so easy?!”

We then realized we haven’t taken the time to share our most fundamental “how to organize” theories, methods, and beliefs.  So here goes.                 

Our belief is best summarized by Leo Babauta’s simple yet succinct mantra “Identify the essential.  Eliminate the Rest.”

Elimination, through strategic organization and de-cluttering, has therapeutic attributes.  It requires time, patience, and the ability to ask oneself some difficult questions.  Questions like why am I really holding onto to this? and why am I afraid to say good-bye? demand answers.  And, in our experience, those who take the time to ask and answer (identify and eliminate) often end-up with a greater sense of self awareness and ability to let go (sounds like therapy to us!).  

This is often an emotionally charged experience and it’s where we (the empathetic and highly intuitive de-cluttering aficionados that we are) play an important role. We add value by asking those tough questions, identifying often overlooked patterns and themes, paying attention to body language and, most importantly, listening.  And we always follow through with support, confidentiality, and practical organizational and throw-away solutions.  This is our expertise.

This is our methodology:

1. The Beginning: Identify the cluttered space you want to organize. Easy.

2. The Goal:  Establish expectations.  Do you have a vision for the room/closet/cabinet etc…? Be clear around your intentions (writing them down helps significantly).  

3. The Space:  Survey and assess. Do you have too much stuff? Are you running into specific problems such as a drawer or a door not closing? Is the area a dumping ground for items that have other, more appropriate, homes (or no home at all)?

4. The Compartmentalization:  Empty all the items from the space and sort into smaller, categorized piles.  For example, when organizing an office you may have a stationary pile, an electronics pile, a pen pile, etc…

5. The Decision-Making (also known as The Intensely Emotional Question Asking & I need a Tylenol & Vodka Process): Go through each item piece by piece. Create 3 separate piles labeled Toss, Maybe, Keep.  Ask those tough questions.  Be honest.  

Neat Tip: Taking pictures of items that evoke sentimentality is a great way to “hold on” without compromising storage space.  Also, stay tuned for our segment on environmental and socially ethical ways to discard unused items!

6. The Mapping:  Look at the empty space and think back to your vision. Are you missing anything? Would additional storage solutions help?

 7. The Cleaning: Clean the area BEFORE you start filling it with your essential items. This important step is often missed by the novice organizer, but believe us (in terms of de-cluttering) nothing is more liberating and satisfying than working with a pristine canvas.

 8. The Completion: Create your masterpiece. 

You might ask: Why do I need a team of fast, reliable, affordable, cute, modest, professional organizers (focusing on the greater Toronto area – sorry Saskatoon) now that I have these steps? 

And we might answer:  In theory anyone can organize and de-clutter.  In reality, however, most people have a hard time identifying the essential and eliminating the rest.  It takes time and willpower to trudge through the stuff you’ve been storing for eons.  And this basic methodology is just the beginning.  We have many, many, many tricks up our neatly pressed sleeves.

You didn’t think we’d give it all away for free did you?!

June 23, 2010 at 8:04 pm 4 comments

Step Into Our Medicine Cabinet

Medicine cabinets and (washroom shelving units) are often small, catch-all, homes to various personal items (holding much more than medicine). They occasionally act as dumping grounds and are also typically neglected during customary cleaning routines (yes you should have a customary cleaning routine!). Although tiny, they house an array of toiletry miscellanea and should be organized, edited, and cleaned regularly.

Why?

Who doesn’t look in other people’s medicine cabinets the moment they lock the bathroom door?!  We’re not condoning snooping but that’s how it goes (and since we both have especially snoopy friends, we ensure our own cabinets are always pristine models of organizational brilliance). On that note, it’s wise to find alternative storage spaces for “private items” such as contraceptives, fungal cream, sex paraphernalia, and illegal drugs. Just a suggestion. And by suggestion we mean find another space.

And, of course, being organized gives you peace of mind. Customary cleaning prevents silverfish. 

Acceptable Medicine Cabinet Items

The Rule: If you haven’t used it in a year – toss it. Medication and toiletries have shelf-lives and expiration dates.

  • Over the counter drugs
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Hair products
  • Dental hygiene products (toothbrushes, floss, whitening strips, etc…)
  • Facial potions & lotions
  • Bath and shower products
  • Grooming tools (tweezers, clippers, wax, shaving tools, etc…)
  • Essential Oils
  • Cosmetics and nail care (have a definite shelf-life)
  • Suncreen and bug spray (these items expire and should always be checked when purchasing)
  • First aid pieces (consider a first aid “kit” instead of having miscellaneous bandages and ointments strewn about)
  • Perfume/cologne
  • Air fresheners
  • Prescribed medication (Learn how to properly dispose of expired/unused meds. Bring them to a pharmacy and NEVER flush or throw away – they can pollute and harm)
  • Toilet Paper and cotton balls

On The Cusp Of Acceptable

You can get away with having the following stored in your medicine cabinet. But we’ll judge you.

  • Matches
  • Reading material (Too cumbersome for a cabinet. Find another home in the bathroom next to the, er, toilet)
  • Cleaning supplies (ideally all household cleaners are kept together in one space)
  • Candles
  • Potpourri (it’s 2010 not 1989)
  • Rubber ducks
  • Massage oil

Make It Happen

  • Remove all items
  • Refer to our “Acceptable List” and toss accordingly
  • Clean all surfaces
  • Allocate specific space using shelves (if the cabinet allows) to separate items into categories
  • Compartmentalize wherever possible (containers for nail care, tumblers for dental products, etc …)
  • Clean surfaces once a month.  Edit once a year.

Check out Apartment Therapy

June 14, 2010 at 7:46 pm 6 comments

Step Into Our Shopping Bag

 

Disorganized spaces and unused items often begin with shopping. 

 Thus, we view strategic shopping as a preventative measure against clutter, disorganized space, and unused (often regrettable) items.  Strategic shopping has money, time, and peace-of-mind saving potential. 

What is strategic shopping? It’s shopping with purpose and intention. It’s the process of obtaining items you genuinely need and will use. A lot.    

How can you put SS into action? Follow our 5 tried and true steps (for the purpose of this article we’re focusing on strategic clothes shopping but the formula can be applied to shopping for anything).  

1. Survey your wardrobe. Take inventory of what you already own. How can you bring new life into existing items? What are you missing? If you haven’t worn a piece in a year (and you really do  love it) perhaps purchasing a belt or a great pair of shoes will pop it back into your wardrobe rotation? 

2. Create an ongoing list of items you need or want. What staples are you lacking? 

3. Be a smart, savvy shopper

a) Set a budget for your shopping trip. Even if you’ve popped into a shopping centre unexpectedly – take a few minutes to mentally map out what you need or would really love to look at.      

b) Beware of overly helpful sales associates (often on commission they have the ability to talk you into purchasing a florescent green felt veiled hat you will never, ever, wear  – we hope). 

c) It’s common shopping knowledge that a trip to the change room will most likely result in a purchase. Before trying items on ask yourself: Is it on my list? Do I really need it? What will it go with? Do I own something similar that will suffice?     

 

4. Resist Temptation

a) The word SALE does not necessarily mean it’s a deal. Our brains are easily tricked into believing we’ve stumbled upon something elusive and fleeting. It’s only a sale if it’s marked down and you really NEED it. (Check your list! What do you mean you lost it?!) 

 

b) Avoid Selling Gimmicks. BOGO, spend $100 and get a $20 giftcard, gift with purchase, etc… These schemes can quickly lead to what Gretchen Rubin (author of The Happiness Project) calls Bargain Clutter and Freebie Clutter – the result of purchasing unnecessary things because they’re on sale.     

NoGo!

 

c) Don’t overspend on trends. Although seasonal trends often resurface, you will most likely want an updated version the next time it comes around. 

Yes its baby blue, yes it show'd my stomach (in my defense I wore a tank top underneath), and no I wasn't ten years old when I wore it. Some trends are NOT enduring. ~ Beth

 

This also rings true for trendy house-wares, knickknacks, and high-tech gadgets. 

5. Enjoy your purchases! Use them and wear them. Don’t save them for special occasions so not to ruin them (this is more common than one would expect). Also, if you happen to come home from a shopping trip without any items, look at your bank account (and storage space) and give yourself a pat on the back! 

 

Other useful links to help you edit your shopping habits ~ 

The Unclutterer ALWAYS has an answer: 

http://unclutterer.com/2010/02/09/discover-your-style-to-keep-clutter-out-of-your-closet/ 

Retail Therapy sucks.  Develop a de-cluttering addiction instead: 

http://research.smeal.psu.edu/news/video-retail-therapys-role-in-enhancing-mood 

Read The Power of Less (just don’t email the author): 

http://zenhabits.net/about/ 

Conscious consuming:

http://www.waronwant.org/about-us 

http://www.ethicalconsumer.ca/ 

http://www.ethicalshopping.com/

June 9, 2010 at 8:01 pm 4 comments

Step Into Our Toolbox

Recently a customer asked if we could help him get down to brass tacks with his tool storage situation. We readily obliged.

Most of us have at least a few tools lying around (and some have an entire closet or room dedicated to these “handy” items). We often own many different kinds of tools (which we hopefully know how to use), but carelessly store them in a manner that makes their use unlikely. The merit in organizing your tools comes when your sink is overflowing and you can easily identify the wrench you need to turn off the water. Fumbling through multiple tools can be frustrating, time consuming, and can leave you with another mess to clean up. We want to continue to make your life easier so we’re tackling your tools!

 Our customer, let’s call him Maynard, did not have his tools organized in an accessible or systematic way. They flooded an entire bookshelf (the horror), and various sections of the basement of his otherwise organized home. Technically he “knew where everything was” (a common misinterpretation for organization – easy NOW but frustrating LATER when things go missing or begin to pile-up making your place look dishevelled). Without a designated home for a tool it, along with your sanity, can easily be misplaced.

A bookshelf is for books not tools!

Newly appointed tool closet

After working with Maynard for a few hours we were able to compile his tools into one space (a closet no less) and the organizational and visual impact was immediate.

Our Pedantic Process:

  • Arrive with clear storage containers (with lids) or classic toolboxes, wide labels, markers, coffee and Valium
  • Map the space and make a goal (time frame, where tools are going to go, etc …)
  • Compartmentalize tools into piles or bins (i.e. screwdrivers, wrenches, screws, hammers, miscellaneous pieces, etc …)
  • Go through each pile and locate duplicates or unnecessary/unused items.  Place in  throwaway/giveaway bins
  • Dust and vacuum the space where the tools used to live as well as their new space   
  • Take the decidedly can’t-live-without tools and place them in the appropriate containers
  • Label containers
  • Place in new space so that the labels are visible 
  • Take Valium

Yes, the tools (sans the ones we gave away) now live here alongside what was left of the closet's original content.

Voila!

No matter how many tools you own, they should be easily accessible and identifiable. We often end up with multiples of the same tool simply because we couldn’t find our existing version. Not only is this annoying (especially when you find your original laser level), but it’s also costing you money and storage space. 

We have a number of solutions for the tool minimalists, as well as the enthusiasts.

Shelves and peg boards (with or without outlines) are awesome!

       

Use small containers to store nuts and bolts.  Mason jars will also work.

Purchasing multifunctional tools (screwdriver with detachable heads or other) is a brilliant way to reduce your tool possession.

       

Don’t be a tool.  Edit your life.

June 2, 2010 at 9:23 pm 2 comments


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