Declutter and Thrive

7 Common Mistakes Professional Organizers Notice (But Clients Don’t)

Even the most well-intentioned of us make mistakes when it comes to keeping our homes decluttered and organized. We may not notice, but professional organizers sure do! They are the experts, after all, and have the training and experience to recognize the areas of your home or your life that could use some help.

1. Not Decluttering Before Organizing

Organized clutter is still clutter! Before tackling an area of your home for organizing—whether it’s the pantry or your walk-in closet—do some major editing and paring down. You’ll have a good pile of stuff to donate (see #5, though), some to throw away or recycle, and what’s left should be the items you like, will use, and need. Now you can group them, organize them, and decide if you need specific storage solutions for any of them. Organizing unedited items may leave you feeling frustrated and unaccomplished.

2. Buying Organizing and Storage Solutions First

It’s so easy to watch a few episodes of Home Edit or Marie Kondo, then buy a heap of beautiful containers, bins, and shelf dividers. We totally get it—you were inspired! But hold up, because buying all that without first taking measurements, assessing your storage needs, and deciding on what will go where will actually lead to more clutter and time wasted. Edit down the area you are working on first, and then you’ll have a more accurate idea of what you truly need to buy.

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Giving the Gift of Organization

Is there someone special in your life who you feel would benefit from a gift of professional organizing services? It is definitely a thoughtful present that would help someone you care about. It’s one less “thing” they don’t need to store in their home or work space. If it’s something they may not be able to afford or would just not spend that money on themselves, then it would be a boon to their life. It’s a gift of love, really. With that being said, there are a few things to consider before giving this generous gift.

Would They Welcome This Gift?

If your brother and sister-in-law seem up to their eyeballs in clutter since the arrival of baby #2, but they are blissfully exhausted and seem fine with their messy home, gifting them a professional organizing service may actually burst their bubble and embarrass them. You don’t want your intended gift of help to create bad feelings for either of you. Think of it as giving a Weight Watchers membership to an overweight friend who has never said anything about trying to lose weight—ouch. But if they often mention how they wish they could finally finish getting the nursery set up, or get the kitchen organized so they can actually cook, or declutter the living room so it’s a more relaxing family space—then time with a pro organizer may be a great help to them.

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Turning Your Home Into a Self-Care Sanctuary

Self-care is so important right now. It’s only mid-January and for Pacific Northwesterners, we know that means a few more months of cold, wet greydom. Understandably, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is much more common in our hemisphere. Where can you get self-care if your budget is limited or you aren’t feeling ready to go to the gym or spa, or to travel? The answer is closer than you think: Home. This infographic has 15 easy ways to turn your home into a self-care sanctuary. Print it out and let it to inspire you to create a home that is conducive to self-care.

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What to Declutter After the Holidays

Hello, January! The holiday stuff has been put away (or has it?), the amount of baking and cooking has returned to normal, and everyone is back to work and school. There are plenty of decluttering opportunities post-holiday, so pick a weekend, do a little work to clear out your home, and start the year off with an energetic bang! We’ve got some terrific ideas on what to declutter and refresh.

Holiday Items

If you actually haven’t put these away yet, here is your chance to declutter these used-once-a-year goods. The bonus is you can declutter while you are putting them away. I do this every year, and it always makes the holiday storage boxes a bit roomier even if I’ve bought a few more decorative items. Start with the lights: get rid of any strings that don’t light up or have worn, brittle, or frayed cords. Next, give each decorative piece 30-seconds of your time. Does it have worn or broken parts, or faded or chipped spots? Do you still love it? Does it still have meaning for you? Does it seem outdated or out of place? Your answers to these questions will let you decide if you are keeping or donating the item. I usually donate my still-usable items to someone in my neighborhood or city Facebook Group—there are a lot of people out there who are happy to use your holiday items. Finally, take down all those sweet holiday cards and recycle them, or send them to St. Jude’s Ranch for Children for their recycled card program.

Winter Wear

We still have almost three months left of winter weather, and now is an appropriate time to declutter your outerwear and accessories. Bring out all the winter wear for everyone in your household. Go through each item for each person—hats, scarves, coats, gloves, long underwear, socks, boots, etc. Check items for tears or untreatable stains, for fit and comfort, and for style and desirability. If you have two items that are almost identical in style, material, and purpose, consider keeping only one. Donate coats in good condition to One Warm Coat, which has several locations around Puget Sound.

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8 Great Reasons to Downsize Your Home

Is your home still meeting your needs? For most people as they start their adult lives and possibly their families, they start upsizing to larger homes with bonus rooms and big backyards. What happens when the kids move out or your lifestyle changes? The word “downsize” may bring to mind recently retired folks who’ve decided to sell their big family home and opt for a sparkly new condo somewhere sunny, and with a pool a few steps away. While that is definitely one of the ways to do it, there are many more reasons to downsize. You don’t even have to be retired!

1. More Cashflow

The housing market in the Greater Seattle Area has been booming for years, and downsizing is definitely one way to create more cashflow. You could free up more cash with a lower or even no mortgage. With a smaller home you’ll also have lower utility bills and homeowner’s insurance; you may even save more with no more HOA dues or yard maintenance costs. It’s also a viable way to consolidate a lot of debt—and lower financial anxiety. For example, sell your home and with the profits, pay off your home equity loan, college loan, and credit card, then pay off most or all of your mortgage. If you’ve been in your home for at least 10 years and it’s value has gone up significantly, you can use that equity to your advantage.

2. Freedom

A smaller home is much easier to maintain. With our eldest launched, one in college, and one in high school, we no longer needed such a big house and yard. We downsized to a smaller but still spacious home with almost no yard, and with the house being brand new, there is nothing it needs in terms of updating or remodeling. Less to clean and keep up = more time for leisure! I’ve got a friend who is loving the freedom of her downsize from a single-family house to a condo in a doorman building. She calls it a “lock and go” setup because she literally turns one key and she can travel and work remotely from anywhere in the world.

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Fall Decluttering: What To Get Rid Of

It’s probably safe to say most people are spending a lot more time at home these days! With Fall coming and the cooler, wetter weather on the horizon, there is even more indoor time to be had. While we’re all looking forward to pumpkin spice lattés, new Netflix shows, and the start of the holiday season, we should also take the opportunity to get rid of stuff. “Stuff” is an excellent catch-all term for items that just seem to accumulate over time and overstay their use and need. I look at the start of every season as a perfect time to clear out certain spaces around the house. These are awesome mini projects that should take no more than 1-2 hours each. Do one or two for a few weekends, and by Halloween you’ll have accomplished quite a lot!

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Put Your Home On An Organization Diet

We’ve all gone on a food diet at some point—changing the way you eat to create a more balanced and healthy body, mind, and lifestyle. Ever think of putting your cluttered and disorganized home on a diet? It’s the same idea, except this time you’re working on changing your household patterns and habits instead. Clearing out the clutter and getting your home more organized is a huge boost to your health, both physical and mental. With more time spent at home than normal, it’s the perfect time to work on your home environment. Enlist your other household members and spend a weekend or two on this new “diet”! Of course, if you don’t have the time or the energy, or if you just feel overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to bring in a professional organizer.

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What Happens During A Simplify Experts Assessment?

If you’ve been reading our monthly newsletters, following us on social media, or checking out our website, you are probably familiar with Simplify Expert’s amazing offer of a complimentary consultation. Founder Denise Allan visits your home and spends about an hour meeting with you and assessing your organizing needs and goals.

I am a Simplify Experts employee, but I am also a homeowner with current decluttering needs! With one child launched, another off to university in the Fall, and only one teen left living at home, our family will be downsizing to a smaller home in a couple of months. Our current home has 10 years’ worth of accumulation. Going from a fairly large home to a medium-sized home means getting rid of significant pieces of furniture; toys, games, sports equipment, books, and clothes that our older kids no longer need; and all kinds of household items we no longer use.

The closing date for our new home was looming, and the listing date for our current home was moved up. We weren’t quite in “panic mode,” but we did need to speed up our process and get the house ready—fast!—for the video/photo pro, and then to list a few days after that. You’d think after four months of quarantine we would have already completely organized and decluttered the house (as well as learned a new language and kept a sourdough starter alive). Our home wasn’t particularly messy or disorganized, but once we started the process of going through everything, it felt and looked like a small tsunami had hit. My kids took everything out of their closets, shelves, and under-bed storage. My husband and I did the same with our offices, the storage room, rec room, and study. The hallways and larger rooms became depositories of everything and we could barely even walk through! Overwhelmed much?

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Creating Your Very Own Real World She Shed

She shed sea shells by the seashore. That’s what she shed. Wait…what?! The whole “she shed” concept came about several years ago as the woman’s equivalent of the man cave: a personal sanctuary to recharge, relax, and de-stress. Doesn’t that sound divine? Search Pinterest for “she shed,” however, and the photos can overwhelm one with their full-blown cottages replete with high-end decor, skylights, a mini fridge, porch swing…you name it. While the concept of a private retreat is a major plus for self-care, creating a she shed shouldn’t become yet another burdensome house project or expense. And honestly, most people don’t have an old garden shed, gazebo, or cottage on their property to transform into an English garden- or fairy tale-inspired she shed. We’ve got ideas on how to bring the she shed idea back to a realistic and manageable level so that every woman can create one without stressing out or spending a lot.

Find Your Space

If you do happen to have a structure on your property you want to convert into a fabulous she shed, that’s awesome—more power to you! If you don’t, you’ll need to get a little creative. Think of “she shed” as a concept, and not necessarily a building. Is your kiddo off to college? Consider transforming their bedroom into your she shed, and having them bunk with a sibling when they’re home for a spell. Does your garage have an extra bay? Do you have a screened-in porch? A sitting area in your bedroom? A never-used “formal” dining room? A really big walk-in closet? See where I’m going with this? Find even a corner that you can make your personal oasis; then cordon it off with a room divider or screen for more privacy.

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Easy Tips to Keep Your Entryway Dry and Tidy During This Wet Winter

Your entry need not look like a post-deluge mess! These quick and easy tips will keep your entryway dry and tidy:

  • Mats on both sides of the door to help floors stay dry and mud-free
  • Boot trays to keep those galoshes from cluttering up and dirtying the entry
  • Small racks or hooks for keys, umbrellas, and hats
  • Heavy-duty racks or hooks for wet coats and backpacks
  • Cubbies, bins, or baskets for books, lunch bags, sports equipment, mail
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