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Simplify Experts Receives Angie’s List Super Service Award 2016!

Simplify Experts 2016 Super Service Award
We are so proud to announce that for the third year in a row, Simplify Experts has earned the coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award. This award goes to the top 5% of service companies which service the local area marketplace. The winners must meet strict eligibility criteria including an “A” rating in overall grade, recent grade and review period grade. We are thrilled and excited to continue to provide excellent professional home organizing services to the Seattle area.

 

Simplify Experts is the most accredited professional organizing firm in the Pacific Northwest.  In addition to other accreditations, Denise is the only Master Trainer in Chronic Disorganization in the PNW.
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Making the Decision to Get Organized – Are you Truly Ready?

Are you ready
Making any life change requires a strong decision. We believe there are 3 qualifiers to any strong decision we make.  If these three qualifiers are there, the decision to engage in any activity or life path is easy.  On the other hand, if one or more of these qualifiers are missing, then potential for failure increases.
When working with potential organizing clients we talk through these three qualifiers to establish if the client is truly ready for change.

 

1) What’s your why?

Why do you want to start organizing your home?  If you have ownership of this decision, then we are good to go.  On the other hand, getting organized to stop your husband nagging is not a strong enough reason to initiate. You should want it for yourself.  You might be thinking, “I want to organize my bedroom, to create a beautiful space to wake up to, and not have piles of papers and boxes of items I need to sort through daily. “  Perhaps you have learned over time that your ADD brain needs to start quietly from bed, to ease into a productive day. These reasons sound like a solid why.

 

2) Do you have the support you need?

In some situations, we may decide on a course of action and be off and running.  In other
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Do You Need a Clutter Diet?

One in four gifts may go unused. Sparefoot.com study says.

What to do With Unwanted Gifts

Once the holidays are over, “on average, more than 1 in 4 gifts go unused.” “79% of Americans admit they never use some of their gifts,” found a recent study by Sparefoot.com. That means in a family of five receiving 4 gifts each, every holiday season 5 items would go unused. If these unwanted and unused items remain in the home over 10 years this would be 50 items. 50 boxes taking up space needed for other things. This number is very conservative – many more gifts are given in a typical family. This statistic also doesn’t include gifts received for birthdays and other special days as well. All these potentially unwanted gifts contribute to our clutter, our overstuffed closets, cupboards, and toy chests.

Why do we keep unwanted items?

Folks will often tell us: “We should keep it because it was a gift. We may use it one day. We can’t give it away it is brand new. The gift has value. Maybe we’ll re-gift it. Maybe someone in the family will use it.”

Clutter causes anxiety

When we keep unwanted items eventually our homes become cluttered and this clutter creates stress and anxiety. If the closets are full then it becomes difficult to retrieve what we need. We lose track of where things are. Toys take over several rooms in the house because there is no more space in the children’s bedrooms or playroom. Kitchen counters disappear under unused appliances and gadgets making meal preparation and cleaning difficult. Garages fill up with bins and boxes and cars no longer fit. The home stops being a restful place.  Anxiety and stress impacts how the family functions.

Gift Obligation

Once the receiver thanks the giver warmly, the receiver has no further obligation to the giver. If your children receive a new board game from grandma and show little interest in playing it, snap a picture of the kids playing the game and let it go. If you receive a duplicate on something you already own, consider donating one of the items.

Clutter Diet

Clutter in our homes has also been linked to poor diet choices. Cluttered kitchens have been linked to increased snacking. Many Americans will make New Year’s Resolutions to eat better or to begin a diet. Many agree that in addition to a food diet they also need a clutter diet.

One in One Out

To keep clutter from growing, utilize the one in one out policy. If you received a holiday gift of a kitchen gadget you are excited about, donate a kitchen gadget from your cupboards that you no longer use. Love your new Nespresso coffee machine? Donate your old coffee maker. This way you will create space for your new gift without increasing the volume of stuff in your home. Utilize this strategy in every room of your home.

 
Much like eating healthfully, keeping a home clutter free is an ongoing challenge. Both require tenacity. To be successful, sometimes we seek the assistance of a nutritionist and sometimes we seek the support of a professional home organizer! Are you ready to begin your clutter diet in 2017?

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Forget New Year’s Resolutions, We Celebrate you Today!

We celebrate the clients of Simplify Experts

I began writing this blog about New Year’s Resolutions. I was going to encourage you all to declutter, organize, simplify. Then I remembered that New Year’s Resolutions don’t actually work for the majority of people who try to set them. So, I began to write a blog about all the reasons why New Year’s Resolutions don’t work and tips for setting better, S.M.A.R.T. goals. That might have been nice, but let’s face it, it is the holiday season and you don’t need to be reminded of all the things you are NOT doing.

So instead, I would like to CELEBRATE YOU and what you HAVE accomplished this year; all of you, our amazing clients, our dear followers and our friends!

You have made it through 2016! I am going to say it, it’s been a doozy of a year. But, you have tirelessly nurtured and supported your family. You had fun but of course there were ups and downs. You learned, you took risks, slogged through, and rocked it. You know, normal life stuff…

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Professional Home Organizer’s Favorite Podcast!

Professional organizers enjoy Happier a podcast from author Gretchen Rubin

We enjoy a weekly podcast called Happier with Gretchen Rubin.  She discusses how to build positive habits into our daily lives. Here are some of Gretchen’s awesome tips.

  • Gretchen says: “Don’t accumulate excessive amounts of things“: free mugs, rubber bands, plastic take out containers, soy sauce packets, chopsticks.  These things have perceived value; you’ll never need more than 10 rubber bands, so come up with a max number and only keep that amount.
  • Gretchen’s one-minute rule: to help yourself keep on top of small annoying little tasks. To keep clutter down, consider setting a microwave timer for one-minute:  you can pick up a few toys, or hang up coats, put away a pair of shoes, or recycle junk mail, or put dishes in the dishwasher. If you do this a few times a day, or even once a day, you will notice more peace and less clutter around your home.
  • From research, Gretchen found that when people are under a ton of stress they go deeper into their habits whether they are good or bad habits…so it is important to have good habits to fall back on when things are tough. For the same reason, it is important to teach our children good habits starting when they are young.
  • Another Gretchen mantra is: “Outer order contributes to inner calm.” Clean up or organize one small area in your home. 10 minutes. A drawer, or desktop. You will feel control over the stuff of life and you will feel more calm and satisfied, and energized.
  • “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” A quote from Voltaire used by Gretchen Rubin in a recent podcast. We love this quote. In short it means we shouldn’t strive for unobtainable perfection, but rather, be honest with ourselves about our available time and energy. This applies to clutter in many ways. For example, some moms dream of creating beautiful custom scrapbooks for each of their children, but haven’t been able to get started for years, all the while hanging onto to every piece of their child’s memorabilia making the project more daunting by the day. Some folks hang on to broken furniture or appliances with intention of repairing them. As a result, they may lose the functionality of a garage or closet where the item takes up much needed storage space.
 Check out Gretchen Rubin’s podcast for more handy tips on how to be happier!
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What do you Want For the Holidays?

What I want for the holidays

Dear Family:
I am so happy the holidays are here. Before you think about buying me anything this holiday season, I feel that I should tell you that I don’t need a single thing. Seriously, I have everything a person could want in multiples. Anyhow, I like to think of myself as an aspiring minimalist and an “under-buyer.” (Thank you Gretchen Rubin for that term)

You’ll roll your eyes, but I am trying to resist the forces of consumerism that surrounds us. I don’t need

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Do You Know Your Mommy Bandwidth?

Can you tell when you have exceeded your bandwidth? We moms do have limits too.

Bandwidth – “The energy or mental capacity required to deal with a situation.” Oxford Living Dictionaries

I don’t need to write about all the different demands on a mom’s time and energy. You already know all about that. You are deep in it every-single-day-of-your-life, just like all of us. After all, you are the person keeping the family going. Sometimes things go along relatively smoothly. Other times, well, things can get a little crazy.
For example, I left the house today to go to an appointment and two blocks from my house I realized that I had automatically started driving to the kids’ school. A few minutes later I made another wrong turn, my inner autopilot taking over once more. This hasn’t happened before. Sure, I’ve

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Create New Space in Your Home by Scaling Back These Three Common Household Items

Board Games

Families love board games because they are fun while helping everyone stay connected. From Chutes and Ladders to classics like Chess, board game collections grow quickly. The game cabinet(s) can become quite crowded. Be authentic about your needs and decide how many of the games your family plays. Create space by donating the least favorite games or ones outgrown by the children. If you play board games on average once a month, how many different games does your family enjoy?

Cookbooks

Cookbooks promise easy steps to a healthier lifestyle. Some cookbooks are beautiful and they inspire us. Some are specific to a type of cuisine we aspire to try. Cookbooks represent knowledge and expertise. Cookbooks can also collect dust like old encyclopedias while taking up a lot of shelf space in our kitchens.
More and more busy parents are seeking out recipes online. Wonderful recipe websites make it easy to find just the recipe you are looking for. Many websites feature reviews and video demonstrations as well. How many of your cookbooks do you use on a regular basis?
It is okay to downsize your cookbooks if they are taking over needed space in your kitchen. A simple three ring binder with some sheet protectors is a good solution for storing favorite recipes you printed or clipped out of a magazine. A cookbook you may be keeping because of one recipe can be reduced to just the pages needed.

Bags

Reusable grocery bags, plastic grocery bags, brown paper bags, and department store bags accumulate and clutter various areas of our homes. Many of us already have several backpacks, purses, work bags, cinch sacks, sports bags and totes. All these add up to cluttered and full closets. It’s a good idea to free up space by actively using and downsizing your bag inventory.
Some families line small trash cans with plastic grocery bags. Many use plastic grocery bags for pet waste and as padding when mailing a package. Others use brown paper bags to wrap gifts or as an outer layer when mailing a package. Some use brown paper bags or department store bags to hold recycling. Others keep a department store bag in a closet for donations.
You may find that you still have too many bags even if you constantly use them around your home. Bags will continue to come into our homes and therefore it is not necessary to keep more than a few. It’s a good idea to keep a handful of reusable bags in every car, at home, and then toss or donate the rest!

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What to do on Thanksgiving Day (other than eat)

What to do on Thanksgiving Day
Every year we gather with friends and family for a Thanksgiving Day feast of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie. For those who are hosting this year, we have some ideas to keep your guests entertained while you prepare the meal and activities everyone can participate in after the big meal is over.

 

Thanksgiving Activities for the Kids

To entertain the children on Thanksgiving consider having age appropriate puzzles, mad libs, crafts and board games on hand. The children can play games, hang out with grandpa and the cousins while the turkey bakes in the oven. Children may work on a craft activity, provided they don’t need the host’s supervision or involvement – you already have your hands full! A game of flag football in the back yard or a trip to the neighborhood park is always a good call.

 

Thanksgiving Activities for the Relatives

Thanksgiving is about gratitude and thoughts of years gone by. Your relatives may enjoy family videos and looking at family photos. Pull out the photo albums or box of photos and let the guests explore, tell family stories and help the children get a better idea of their family tree. Family guests may also enjoy baby videos, travel or family event videos and be reminded of past experiences with gratitude. If all your photos are digital, show them on your TV with Chromecast.

 

Activities for the Athletic

If you are looking for something fun and athletic to do on Thanksgiving Day, participate in a family Run/Walk in your community. A neighborhood walk or morning hike helps family members bond and frees the host to prepare the meal. Alternately, take a group walk or visit a local park after the meal is over.

 

Activities for the Giving

Helping those in need goes hand in hand with having gratitude this season.  Consider asking your guests to bring non-perishable food items. Collect these for a local food bank. Put the children in charge of your canned food drive. Later take them with you when you donate at the local food bank. Another opportunity to help out those less fortunate this Thanksgiving is to collect business professional clothes for Dress for Success. This organization provides clothing to needy women going on job interviews. By donating business professional clothing, your guests can free up space in their closets while contributing to a great cause.

 

Activities for the Traditionalists

Every family has old traditions and perhaps some new ones too! Check out this list from Huffington Post to see if your tradition is listed! Even if watching sports is not typically your thing, the oldest Thanksgiving Day tradition is watching football on TV. Your guests can enjoy healthy snacks and await the big meal. Football and Thanksgiving are two of America’s best traditions. Enjoy!
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Store your Child’s Keepsakes, Schoolwork and Art

Simple ways to store your child's keepsakes.

The day our children make their first scribbles with a crayon we begin collecting and storing their art and other keepsakes. Beginning in preschool the volume of children’s crafts, art projects and first handwriting efforts sent home increases dramatically. By elementary school, your child’s keepsakes can start to become overwhelming.

What keepsakes should we keep? Where and how should we store them all?

We recommend storing children’s keepsakes in a clear plastic file box. The Container Store has a great extra-large file tote box.  Label the tote box with your child’s name and create a file folder for each grade, starting with preschool. These files will give you a year by year record for your child making it easy to pick out what you would like to include in a scrapbook.

How should we store large art pieces or fragile ceramic projects?

As your child brings schoolwork home, show them where to recycle paper they do not need. Take out items you would like to save and file them. File school and sports photos together with other schoolwork you are keeping. For those oversized art pieces, we like to use a large art portfolio. When you file these art pieces, note if they are labeled with name and date.  We recommend cleaning out backpacks during all three-day weekends and holiday breaks.
The end of the school year is a good time to take a close look at what keepsakes you have saved. Lots of paper and projects come home at that time. Keep only the best samples of your child’s best work. Many parents like to display their child’s ceramics for a short time. Take a photo of pieces that you like, but which might be too awkward to store long term. This way you have a record and a memory of your child’s creation.
Storing keepsakes can cut into your available storage space. Store full bins on top shelves in closets, or in the garage. Active bins should be easily accessible. Some children love to hang on to their work. Others may not. Be mindful of how you and your child feel about keepsakes. Ultimately it will be your children who are storing these bins in their homes!

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