Posts Taged home-organizing

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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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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Quick and Easy House Projects To Do During Quarantine

With the current “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order extended to May 4 in Washington State, professional organizing services (along with many other services) have been temporarily halted. While we can’t come to your home and help you organize right now, we can still give you some quick and simple tips on cleaning, decluttering, and organizing! Think of these mini projects as the precursor to your spring cleaning, as most can be done in less than a day. Do you have kids at home doing remote learning? Let them take a recess and give you a hand; it may earn them some extra screen time or the chance to pick this weekend’s takeout dinner!

Remember the “forgotten” places.

Under your bed, your baseboards, under the sofas and armchairs, the fan vents in your bathrooms, the top of your fridge and kitchen cupboards—these are just a few of the areas in your home that most likely don’t get a regular cleaning. Say goodbye to the dust bunnies! Move any furniture that’s in the way, get a good, damp microfiber cloth and the hose attachment for your vacuum, and have a go at these dusty spots.

Put winter away.

Is your entryway or mudroom still looking like it’s February? It’s April…it’s time to let all that winter gear hibernate till next year. Gather up boots, heavy coats, hats, scarves and gloves; clean or wash them before putting them away. If you’ve got a rug or boot tray, give it a good shake outside or a good vacuuming. Same goes for your winter sports gear—skis, poles, ski clothes, helmets, sleds—clean what needs it, and then store them away for next season. Now you’ve got room for your spring stuff!

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Why You Aren’t In Love With Your Bedroom…And How To Fix It

If you think of your bedroom as the room you merely sleep in, we’d like to change your philosophy on this. Your bedroom is definitely your shut-eye space, but it could be so much more—your personal sanctuary, romantic hideaway, self-care she-shed, or zen retreat. It should be a place you can feel calm, peaceful, and safe in. We’ve come up with several possibilities of why you aren’t in love with your bedroom, and how to fix this.

Don’t Let Chaos Reign

There is no way you can feel relaxed in your bedroom if clutter is covering every piece of furniture and floor space. Spend a weekend cleaning your room (pretend you’re a grounded teen!): sort clean and dirty laundry, put everything back in its place, remove items that should be in other rooms, and get rid of donations or rubbish. An organized, decluttered bedroom will help you sleep better, then wake up to a smoother, calmer start to your day. It also improves air quality when you don’t have a bunch of stuff collecting dust. Your bedside tables should have minimal items on them: a lamp, the book you are currently reading, maybe hand lotion or a candle. Don’t forget to make your bed and put your folded PJs under your pillow each morning!

Move the Stressful Stuff Elsewhere

Do you sit in bed and work on your laptop? Do you have an exercise machine in the bedroom? This is a tough one, but seriously consider moving these activities and their accompanying physical pieces to another room altogether. Work and exercise are excellent and necessary, but so is a bedroom devoid of stressful, demanding things. Waking up and seeing your laptop or elliptical first thing is not conducive to a relaxing start to your day. If you really want to take it up a notch, stop taking your phone to bed with you. The screen’s blue light mimics daylight, which messes with your circadian rhythm, decreases your REM sleep, and hinders you from falling asleep.

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