An Organized Closet in Just 4 Weeks: Declutter

This month, we’re organizing your closet! Last week I wrote about how to find your closet style, because defining a goal is the first step toward achieving a goal. But whether you go for minimalism, coziness, or a total glam closet, you’ll need space to achieve it. The best way to make space is to declutter your closet!

When I work with clients, I use the acronym TRACKS to sort and pare it down to the essentials, and you can use it on your own, too.

TRACKS stands for Trash, Recycle, Action, Charity, Keep, and Sell. When I’m decluttering with someone, we go through each item and ask which of these categories it belongs in. Sorting everything into these categories is a big step towards a neat closet!

Trash

It’s the first letter of the acronym, but it’s really the last resort. Only send a piece of clothing to the landfill if it doesn’t fit in any other category.

Recycle

Recycling clothes usually takes the form of donation, but you CAN reuse material in other ways if the garment is no longer wearable. Here’s a neat video about how to make t-shirt yarn! You can also cut garments into rags and use them to clean up around the house.

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An Organized Closet in Just 4 Weeks: Find Your Style

Clothing is an everyday part of life, which means your closet is a central part of your morning. Does it take forever to find what you want to wear each day? Do you roam the house, looking through piles of laundry for what you want? Getting dressed can be simple and stress-free, but not if your closet threatens an avalanche when you open it. A simple-to-use, calm and orderly closet? You can make it happen! Over the next four weeks I’ll take you through the steps you can take to make your closet work for YOU. The first step: find your closet style.

Why Organize My Closet?

An organized closet brings many benefits! An organized closet…

  • contains ALL of your clothes, so you only have one place to go to find what you need. 
  • contains clothes you like and wear. You can go into your closet and be guaranteed to pick out something that fits you and matches your personal style. 
  • keeps your clothes in better condition. When they’re wadded up on the floor, or languishing in the dryer, clothes develop wrinkles. The less you have to iron, the longer your clothes will last. And who wants to iron, anyway? 
  • makes it clear which clothes are clean. When your clothes are strewn all about the house, it can be difficult to tell the dirty stuff from the clean stuff. Clothes might go through the wash two or three times! When all your clothes have a home, it’s simple to tell what’s clean.
  • is decluttered, meaning you have fewer clothes to deal with overall. Things might get worn more often, which gives you a chance to update your wardrobe with current styles without having barely-worn items hanging around for ages. 
  • is eco- and budget-friendly! When you store clothes properly, they last longer and you won’t have to buy new ones. Donating items that you don’t wear gives them a chance to be loved by someone else, too. The longer a piece of clothing stays in circulation, the less new clothing has to be made. Don’t buy into the throwaway mentality of fast fashion! 

Speaking of Fast Fashion…

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I know I should have a morning routine, but how?

How do you leave the house in the morning? Are you calm? Are you able to quickly pick up the things you need as you go out the door? Or do you run around, frantically trying to remember where you put your keys last night and forgetting your lunch on the kitchen counter?

If you have children, or need to coordinate with other people leaving the house, the difficulties are multiplied, sometimes exponentially!

So what can help you get out the door with the minimum of fuss and maximum of efficiency? I heard of one woman who was able to get her and her children out the door in 25 minutes in the morning – that’s efficiency. I confess, I like to have more time in the morning to do a few things around the house before I leave.

So what do you need to do to make your morning routine easier on yourself? Ask yourself what it would be like to leave calmly. What sorts of things would you do? How much time do you need to leave for various tasks? What things could you do ahead of time?

Here are some ideas if you are stuck.

The Night Before

  • Set out clothes, including ironing them if necessary 
  • Prepare lunches, or at least gather together any uncut items – whole fruit, carrot sticks, cheese sticks, crackers, etc. – and put them in their containers or baggies. 
  • Gather any items you will need for the next day- homework, permission slips, items for running errands, meeting materials, etc. – and put them in your bag/briefcase near the door.
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Get the Most out of Your Computer: Use Search!

Get the Most out of Your Computer: Use Search!

I’ve written before about the best way to keep your digital files organized. Today I’d like to go a little deeper into one of those topics: using search to find files on your computer!

It’s important to keep your digital files organized in a folder/subfolder system! However, the old method of clicking through those files to find what you need is outdated. Keeping your files organized saves space on your hard drive and makes all methods of file retrieval easier, but using your computer’s built-in search function is now faster than the point-and-click route. Here are my best practices for using search to find what you need quickly and efficiently.

How to Use Search

Mac and Windows each have their own built-in search functions, and they operate in similar ways. Much like an internet search engine, you type your keywords into a search bar to find what you’re looking for.

On Mac, the global search function is called Spotlight Search. You can also look for files directly in the Finder system. To open up the Spotlight, click the Spotlight icon, or press Command + Space. Then enter your keywords to search. For some more information on how to use Mac’s Spotlight Search, click here.

Windows has its own search in the task bar, or you can press Windows + S, and enter your keywords from there. More instructions on using it can be found here. 

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How to Stay Organized when Everything is a Mess

This month we’re focusing on answering questions about organizing! Last week I wrote about what virtual organizing is, as it’s not a well-known topic. This week, I’ll be addressing another less-talked-about issue. 

Here’s one of the questions I received. 

“I have a chronic illness that fluctuates a lot. I wake up never knowing what kind of day I’m going to have. Is it going to be painful? Am I going to be fatigued? Am I gonna be totally fine?

I want to have an organized life, but it doesn’t seem possible for me given my illness. How am I supposed to get organized and stay organized when I can’t plan more than a few hours ahead?”

What a question! And what a great opportunity to talk about what organizing is all about.

I get the feeling that when I say “an organized life,” what some hear is “a perfect life.” That’s not quite right. Everyone goes through rough patches. Everyone encounters interruptions! No matter how organized you are, there will always be something that doesn’t go to plan. And that’s okay. 

Being an organized person isn’t about being a perfect person who has it all under control. It’s about being adaptable, and learning strategies for managing the tough times when they come. So what do you do when it all falls apart? 

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What the heck is virtual organizing?

When I offer a client virtual organizing, they usually ask, “Well, what is virtual organizing?”.

The Zoom explosion that happened during the pandemic has certainly normalized virtual services. But what’s it like to organize virtually? After all, isn’t the whole point of hiring an organizer that they’ll move your stuff around for you? 

Not quite! 

What Virtual Organizing Is

Physically rearranging objects is only part of the organizing equation. If I came over while you had a spa day and organized everything for you, your home would certainly be neat … until the clutter came back. And so, the other half of the equation: learning HOW to organize. 

At Organize to Excel, our goal is to give you the knowledge and tools you need to get organized and stay organized. Virtual organizing is a distilled version of that! Whether we focus on your closet, your digital files, or your office, during virtual organizing, we work with you to:

  • facilitate decision-making,
  • offer expert opinions, and
  • bust through stumbling blocks.

In the same way a virtual personal trainer doesn’t need to be with you to pass on their knowledge, virtual organizers help develop strategies and create accountability. 

So what’s it like to work with a virtual organizer? I had a session with Kristin the other day–here’s how it went! 

**All information shared was okayed by Kristin, including images!

Before Organizing

Kristin and I hopped on a Zoom call at the appointment time and said hello. She was excited to work on decluttering her computer desk. Before we started, though, I asked some questions to help define what “organized” meant for her desk. I also asked how she’d like to use the space going forward. 

Kristin said her desk felt like it was too small to hold everything she needed for work. I normally advocate that it’s okay to not have everything at hand. It’s good to get up and move around the house! But Kristin shared that she has a disability that limits the amount of time she can spend on her feet. That’s what “organized” meant to her in that space: storing items efficiently so that she could stay seated while working. 

During Organizing 

I had her step back and stream a little video so I could see what we were working with. As we looked at the desk together, a pattern emerged. Going through the items on her desk, we realized that she had three of the same kind of stress toy! Here’s where the decision-making work started. By grouping items together, we were able to see where she had duplicates, and then decide if the duplicates were necessary. Kristin decided she only needed one stress toy at her desk, and that she could place the other two around the house in other areas where she might need them. More desk space! 

We also discovered that she had a lot of personal care items at her desk, like chapstick, eye drops, and hair clips. This made sense for her, but they were all scattered loose on the desktop. We used a bowl that was already there to contain them and claim even more space back. 

A number of items didn’t belong at the desk, so I had her make a “go-back bucket” to temporarily store them. After our session, she could pick it up and distribute things where they made more sense. Some things she decided didn’t belong in her home at all. Those that could be donated or recycled were set into separate piles, and the rest went into the trash. 

Kristin’s desk was already looking better! Once we had decided what to keep, we strategized about the best way to store everything. I noticed that she wasn’t taking advantage of vertical space as well as she could, so I offered some ideas for how she might change things up. 

Kristin’s desk had a scanner, printer, and milk-crate-turned-storage-box spread across it. After Kristin tried a few iterations, we found a great solution. “Never in my life did I think to put my printer inside that milk crate,” she said. But she did and it worked! Instead of taking up precious horizontal space, her scanner, printer, and storage container stacked vertically. As a bonus, she realized that by stacking the printer and scanner, she wouldn’t have to reach off to the side anymore when she wanted to print–a movement that, over time, was painful for her. 

After Organizing

Kristin was so pleased at the end of our session! By finding out what being organized meant to her, and using my expert knowledge to coach (and cheerlead) her along, we transformed her work area for the better. 

I hope this clarifies what virtual organizing is about! If you have any questions or would like to schedule a virtual session, click the banner below to discuss details!

Give us a call!

Top 3 Tips for Organizing Your Garage

You’ve decluttered, you’ve created stations for different categories, and you’ve brought all food and delicate items inside. Now you just need stuff to put your stuff in! Be strategic about what you purchase, though. When I’m organizing with a client, I try to bring as few new items into the home, including the garage, as possible. Using what you already have before buying new organizing gadgets saves you money and reduces your consumption (=love for the planet!). That being said, here are my top 3 tips for garage organizing!

1. Use Vertical Space

Garage organizing vertical space

When you can’t go outward, go upward. Hooks, racks, and shelves are all great ways to get items off the floor. Vertical storage saves space, and saves you from picking everything up off the floor. Better for your garage, and better for your back. If you need help installing organizing solutions in your garage, contact a local garage organizing installer. If you are in Los Angeles, Gus at OrganizIt! and Jay from Organized Garage Solutions both know their stuff and have been working with Professional Organizers for years. Both these garage organizing companies can help you with sports-specific hooks and bins and other tricky bulky item storage.

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How to Avoid the Biggest Garage Organizing Mistakes

A neat garage that’s crawling with pests is not a neat garage at all! And if you store your stuff neatly but improperly, you could face a disaster. Avoid garage organizing mistakes and keep these items safely indoors.

Climate-Sensitive Items

Things that are affected by extreme heat, cold, or humidity belong inside your home, or in a climate-controlled storage unit. These include:

  • Important documents. Don’t lose your marriage certificate (or your rare vintage Pokémon cards) to water damage. High humidity or floods can render valuable items useless.
  • Photos. Heat and damp can cause them to fade prematurely.
  • Vinyl records, which can warp at high temperatures.
  • Wine, which needs a consistent temperature.
  • Delicate clothing that can mold and rot.
  • Paintings, which don’t do well in fluctuating temperatures.
  • Old house paint. Heat can make it unusable.
  • Wooden furniture, which absorbs moisture.
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THE Best Hack to Declutter Your Garage – TRACKS!

Are you sitting down? I have some shocking news…

…there’s stuff in your garage that you don’t need.

Shocked Uh Oh GIF
oh, no…

But don’t panic! Here’s how I work with my clients to decide what stays, what goes, and what to do with unwanted items. Often deciding what you will do with any items you don’t want or need before you decide if you actually want them can speed up the deciding process.

TRACKS

TRACKS stands for Trash, Recycle, Action, Charity, Keep, and Sell. When I’m decluttering with someone, we go through each item and ask which of these categories it belongs in. Sorting everything into these categories is a big step towards a neat, peaceful home.

Pro tip: Start in a small area to get the hang of TRACKS. Try decluttering one box, one drawer, or one shelf using this method. It’s okay to go slow.

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Lies we tell ourselves about garage organizing

Pop quiz! What do these garage organizing statements have in common?

  • “This chair doesn’t fit in our dining room, so I’ll put it in the garage. We’ll bring it in if we have a party.”
  • “Just put empty moving boxes in the garage, we’ll figure out what to do with them later.”
  • “Tools go in the garage, just put them wherever, it’s fine.”

What these sentences all have in common is that they are all lies. That chair is not coming back inside—the garage is where things to go get dusty and be forgotten. Those towers of moving boxes will hang around until your next move, unless you unload them on someone else who moves first. It’s not fine to put tools wherever, unless you like playing find-the-screw-in-the-nail-stack.

If you think of your garage as a dumping ground for things you don’t know what to do with, or as a temporary storage space until you think of something better, you set yourself up for frustration. I don’t want that for you! I want your garage to be a useful, stress-free zone. Here’s how.

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