Home Organizing

An Invitation to Weary Moms

Moms, we see you. We see you carrying the load of house manager, businesswoman, cook, cleaner, parent, motivator, and teacher. We see and feel the fatigue and toll this last 13 months of COVID has taken. We also feel the ray of hope that the vaccine has created. (Woohoo, the Simplify Experts team is now fully vaccinated!)

We want to honor Moms by gifting two hours of professional organizing for Mom’s Day. We have never offered anything like this before…and it won’t last long—so don’t delay!

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Why Hire A Professional Organizer to Help With a Move or Remodel?

We are truly proud that Simplify Experts has helped thousands of clients across the Puget Sound with their home decluttering and organizing needs over the past 14 years. Many don’t realize, however, the large number of clients we have also helped with their moving and remodeling needs. It’s true! Professional organizers can help make this major life event less stressful, more streamlined, and yes, more cost-effective! A recent survey showed moving as the top stressor in life events, with 43% saying they’d never do it again. Still not sure why you should hire a professional organizer with your move or remodel? Read on, and you may have a change of tune.

Declutter and downsize before you pack…and save money.

Moving companies generally charge by weight. They give a cost estimate using formulas to calculate the total volume of your furnishings and household items, including everything in your closets, shelves, and cabinets. If you pack it all up, have the movers take it, and then unpack, declutter, and downsize at your new home, you will have paid the movers to move things you ended up getting rid of. With one client, our organizers took about 40 black garbage bags and a dozen large boxes to the donation center, and left a good-sized mountain of random junk on the porch for a hauler to take away. Imagine if they had had the movers take all that to their new home!

We help you get rid of the big things, too.

We help you declutter and downsize much more than just books, clothing, kids’ stuff, and household items. If you are moving to a bigger or smaller home, chances are your furniture and decor needs will be changing, too. That old disassembled antique crib in the garage? Your Chippendale mahogany dining set that doesn’t go with your new, modern condo? Several pieces from your original art collection that need a new home? We can help you consign or donate these items so you have several less things to worry about.

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Step-by-Step Guide to Organizing Your Photos

Remember when we used film in our cameras? (Kids now: “How retro!”) We had a finite number of photos to take: 24 or 36. There was work to be done before you could see those pictures. A trip to the Fotomat or Pay & Save, then later, Costco, to drop off the film. Days later, you’d go again to pick up the photos and the negatives. I recall being so excited to see the pictures from a family vacation, or birthday party, or holiday! Out of that 24- or 36-roll, you’d get a handful of really good ones (or at least, good enough for the photo album). The rest went back in the envelope and got put in the shoebox with the other photo envelopes.

With digital cameras and smartphones having bigger and bigger storage capacities, the infinite nature of photographing anything is now standard for most people. A child’s birthday party could have a few hundred photos; a long trip abroad could have over a thousand! The advantage is you can re-take photos several times to get it just right; the disadvantage is you end up with an enormous amount to cull through later. How to begin organizing your thousands of printed and digital photos? Use these five steps to help ease this task.

1. What Are Your Goals?

Before you begin, decide on what your photo goals are. A few examples:

  • Organize my old printed photos and create photo albums.
  • Combine all my digital photos into one storage drive.
  • Scan my printed photos and combine them with the digital ones.
  • Label my photo storage system so I can find what I need quickly.
  • Cull my digital photos and create a storage file system plus a backup.

When you have decided what it is you’re looking to achieve, it will be easier to work on your photos with these goals in mind. 

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Organize Your Financial Documents

Even though we are in the Digital Age, paper remains a constant in our lives. While junk emails have replaced junk snail mail (trees happy, inboxes…not so much), one of the major paper generators of all is personal finances. Last summer my husband and I sold and then bought a home—the amount of paper those two transactions took was mind-boggling. We all have bank records, loans, credit cards, and utilities…and that is just the beginning. So much of our money-related information enters our homes as paper! Organizing paperwork can definitely be overwhelming. Let these guidelines help you get your financial documents in order.

Review what documents you have.

Before you can organize your documents, go through them and see what you have. Organize them into categories, such as To File, To Shred, To Read, To Pay, and Needs Action. You may discover unpaid bills, receipts for tax deductions, and all sorts of other paperwork you didn’t realize was in that big stack. If you’re uncertain about what to keep and what to shred, refer to our thorough guide on paper retention.

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How to Practice

from The New Yorker
March 1, 2021
by Ann Patchett
I wanted to get rid of my possessions, because possessions stood between me and death.

I started thinking about getting our house in order when Tavia’s father died. Tavia, my friend from early childhood (and youth, and middle age, and these years on the downhill slalom), grew up in unit 24-S of the Georgetown condominiums in Nashville. Her father, Kent, had moved there in the seventies, after his divorce, and stayed. Over the years, we had borne witness to every phase of his personal style: Kent as sea captain (navy peacoat, beard, pipe), Kent as the lost child of Studio 54 (purple), Kent as Gordon Gekko (Armani suits, cufflinks, tie bar), Kent as Jane Fonda (tracksuits, matching trainers), Kent as urban cowboy (fifteen pairs of boots, custom-made), and finally, his last iteration, which had, in fact, underlain all previous iterations, Kent as cosmic monk (loose cotton shirts, cotton drawstring pants—he’d put on weight).

Read the rest on The New Yorker.

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My nest is empty, but the stuff remains. Why is decluttering so emotionally fraught?

From The Washington Post
March 4, 2021

 

Last March, when most people were wringing their hands about the shutdown, I felt positively giddy at the prospect of finally getting organized. Time — the rarest of commodities — was now being served up on a silver platter.

So how can it be that, almost a year since the pandemic began, the basement, attic and garage remain as overstuffed as ever? Why can’t I empty my empty nest? I have to confront an uncomfortable truth: It’s not about time; it’s about me.

Although the story about how younger generations have no use for their boomer parents’ stuffhas been well-documented, my lack of progress has nothing to do with dining room tables with seating for 12 or display cabinets. It’s the photo albums, the well-loved baby blankets and the shoe boxes full of letters that have left me paralyzed.

Follow me into my cobwebbed basement, and you’ll find a museum of memorabilia still untouched, despite a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. The bedroom set is a lot easier to shed than the 17-by-20-inch wedding portrait of my mother, who has been gone for 10 years now. It’s too massive and shrine-like to put anywhere else, and yet, how can I just cavalierly toss her in the trash?

Read the rest on The Washington Post.

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Organizing Your Devices

When Bill Gates said in the 80’s that his goal was “a computer on every desk and in every home” he may not have realized how prescient that would be. Fast forward to 2020, when the average U.S. home had approximately 10 connected devices. Think about that—computers, smartphones, tablets, e-readers, smart TVs, digital cameras, game consoles, smart watches, smart home hubs, etc. The list is endless when you add in the potential for smart light switches, garage door openers, speakers, virtual reality devices, GoPros, and wearable technology. Most of us love gadgets–technology has definitely made some parts of life so much easier. But don’t let your tech become your clutter problem. Here are some tips and tricks to keeping your devices organized and accounted for.

Pare Down What You’ve Got

Set aside an hour or two, and have everyone in your household bring out all their tech, plus all related manuals, chargers, cords, etc. Go through your cabinets and “junk” drawers, desk drawers, car consoles, and any other storage places where you’ve kept electronics items. Don’t forget old flash drives and SD cards. Bring it all out! Set aside the items you truly use, along with its chargers/cords/manuals. The rest, put in a discard pile. Anything that no longer works or is missing chargers or plugs? Discard pile.

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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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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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