Thursday, November 8, 2012

End junk mail

I have had it with junk mail. What I do with unsolicited credit card forms, put all paper work back into the postage paid envelope that comes with the letter including the original envelope it all came in and just send it back to them. Let them pay to get their own junk back. To prevent unwanted junk mail for good, send a postcard or a letter to: Direct Marketing Association, Mail Preference Servi...
ce, P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY, 10512. List your name and address, and ask to "be removed from all mailing lists". Each time you change your mailing address, send a new letter.
Call the phone number on the back of each catalog and ask to be removed from their mailing list. Going forward, each time you make an online or in-store purchase, be clear that you do not wish to be put on a mailing list.
Good luck.

  • Monday, July 30, 2012

    Project end in sight.

    The end is in sight. No that does not meet I will not longer blog but it has been a while and one of the longest projects I have ever taken on. The next time a client wants to redo their space and doesn't have the ambition, the energy or the ability to make decisions, please remind me of what I just accomplished. I could not run the other way or say no to this person because, unfortunately in this case, I am the client.  Yes folks it’s me.  I get it. Starting a project and finishing a project are two different things.

     When I came up with the very cool design, I diagramed it to make sure it would fit.  My carpenter guru built the desk out of cabinet grade plywood for me. After that comes to the details. What I have discovered in a complete redo is the details.  The term “the devil is in the details” is true.  The details, the stuff that is stuck in my head that keep me from sleeping at night, interrupt my dinner when I think of something I want in there, the color of the lamp, the fabric on the curtains, cabinet pulls and drawer handles. It is enough to drive anyone crazy. I have a great respect for designers, not the ones who come up with an idea and tell you what to buy and hire someone to do it, but the one who take the time and have the skills to build the desk, paint it, make the curtains, and build extra drawers in the cabinet for extra storage.

     If you hire a designer, decorator or organizer who does not come in with their own tool box, do not hire them. I’m just saying. I will discuss my tool box on a different blog.  But I digress.

     Since I am working solo on this project I have had to “rely on the kindness of strangers” or just friends who have the tools and I can talk into helping me for the price of a beer.  For instance, my home was build in the 1980’s before the Internet so my cable hook up and the phone are on different walls. Of course since I have a “bundle” everything runs from the cable connection. Until now I have had to run a 12 ft. telephone cord from the phone plug to the router which is plugged into the cable. I am amazed at the new terminology that I have picked up such as fish tape, which is a spool of wire that has a hook like thing on the end. Pass is under carpet or behind something, attach the cord that you want to hide and it pulls wires underneath so they don’t cause a trip hazard.  Anyway enough technical stuff.

    Befor- can you spot what kept?

    After: the same wall.

    My only obstacle to completely finishing the project is my own fear of making a mistake.

    Stay tuned.

    Monday, June 11, 2012

    The Project

    Well I have finally got the guts and ambition to tackle my home office. This has been in the works for a while. The room started out as my sanctuary to have around me all of the stuff that made me happy. A place where I could sit, work, plan, and feel confident in the fact that I know where everything is and where I can find it. That sounds familiar, where I have heard that before? Anyway, I was happy for about 5 years then recently it happened. I am tripping over cords, loosing paperwork and noticing I have files going back to the 1980's for homes I no longer own, cars I don't have and the warrantee on an 8 tract tape player. Yes, organization is a practice, not an exact science.

    Something had to be done. So I started. 

    The first thing I did was sell my desk. If I did that I would have no choice but to proceed with the new design.  It was a nice oak computer desk with the keyboard drawer that pulled out and two very small pencil drawers on each side.  Although it was a great looking desk, it was not my style and was not functional. Who knew it would sell on Craig’s List in 24 hours. Now I am committed and I have a lot more room.  I packed up 7 boxes of books, files, CDs, office supplies, magazines (reference only), and I throw away 2 bags of trash.  Of course some of these boxes are hiding in the closet, but I will tackle the closet later.  Everything is coming out. My Lazy Boy rocker recliner is for sale if anyone is interested. Check my website for a better picture.

    I am committed to using only one book case that I have repainted, one 2 drawer filing cabinet that has been redesigned and one mesh file box (total 3 file drawers). I am also designing 4 shallow drawers for pens, envelopes, staples, etc. Not a lot of storage space but what I really need is desk space, a comfortable place to stretch out and read and a place for a guest. A modern sleeper sofa should work.
    So far progress has been slow. Since most of the furniture is very heavy I have to rely on my friends to help move the heavy stuff out. That is why progress has been slow.

     As I said this is a process so if you decide you want to take on a space in your home or office and think it is just too daunting, it probably is but just stay tuned and you may get the inspiration you need to get started.  I am a person who goes big or not go at all.

    Stay tuned for more exciting episodes of my home office makeover project and wish me luck. 


    Tuesday, May 8, 2012

    Can I really do this job?

    Getting clients to actually ask for help in organizing their space is hard. First they have to realize that disorganization is not a character defect. Out of every 50 people I know who needs help and actually tells me they need my help only about 5 will actually ask for help. That got me wondering if it was me they did not like or just the thought of actually doing it that scared them silent.
    I set about critiquing my rapport with my clients to see if it was me or them. After every initial meeting I would ask myself why did they hired me or why not.  That adventure did not last long since I realized that my original math was correct:  Out of every 50 people I know who needs help and actually tells me they need my help only about 5 will actually ask for help.  It’s not me. Hurry! Now I can move on the more important things.   I did learn one thing however; I was giving away too much information.  If organization is not intuitive, even though they may be highly intelligent and much smarter they me,  bombarding them with the how and when and why of cleaning out a desk or organizing their pantry is just too overwhelming and all they wanted to do is just go back to their nuclear lab and continue to save the world.

    It is this type of client that makes me feel the best about what I do.  My fear of “can I really do this job?” disappeared when I entered the upscale home of a family of three. Mom was a nutritionist and insurance agent, Dad was a physician, and the daughter was 4 years old. It became clear to me that organization was not top on their list of things to do. She has two major spaces that need help immediately and since we only had a three hour session we pick her home office first.  As I entered the office I saw plastic bags full of what organization pros call just “paper”. These bags contained unopened mail, junk mail, torn address labels, old magazines, publications, and kid’s drawings. These bags where on the floor in front of the desk, next to the sofa, behind the desk and hidden in corners that she hoped I would not find.  Too late. While she was out of the room I started sorting through the bags of paper.  I did not through anything away.  Everything in the bag that I picked up was sorted into piles; unopened, junk, artwork, etc.  I came back to the torn address labels. What I found out is her fear of throwing away anything with her address on it. She told me as she gets the mail she tears off the address section and puts everything back in the bag to be dealt with later.   

     “What?  Your addresses are not what criminals want.  If you have the mail your address is already public knowledge.”  The corner stone of my business is the fact that I coach people on what, how and when to throw stuff away.  I don’t think that sunk in at the time but as we finished the session I do hope she had time to process it as she continued to go through the other bags on the floor.  At the end of the session, there was one large garbage bag of thrash that included envelopes minus their address section, a shred box that contained the torn address pieces and an action pile that need to be taken care off immediately.  She also had a cleaned out bookcase so she can collect brochures for her business that were also cluttering the floor.  I gave her advice on how to arrange the office for better work flow and gave her an action plan for tackling the garage.

    As I left her home I realized that I did accomplish something. At least she can start a habit of going through the mail as it comes in and acting on it in a timely manner.  Concurring her fear of the tiny address pieces will take more time.

    I may not be the smartest knife on the magnet, but yes, I can do this job.

    Sunday, April 15, 2012

    Cutting the cord with adult children

    When I was 26 years old, I moved out of my parent’s house. I took with me, my cloths and personal items. My mother did "give" me the heaviest sleeper sofa in the world simply because she did not want it anymore and was glad to get rid of it. She also offered me mismatched dishes, old pots and pans, and thread bear sheets and towels. As sad as I think she was to see me leave home, she was very happy to get rid of her junk to what she thought a good cause.

     I meet a lot of people in my business that have just the opposite way of looking at this situation.  I was attending my local Lions Club meeting last week and we were planning our bi annual garage sale to support the Lions charities. For obvious reasons, I was the chair person for the event. As members we don’t advertise our business and since most of our membership is retired anyway it does not really matter.  With that said I am still very vocal about what I do and how I feel about clutter and keeping unnecessary and unwanted items.

     As were where discussing the event, one of our members who is retired mentioned that he needed to have his own garage sale but did not know where to start. He has so much stuff and most of it did not even belong to him.  At that time I suddenly lost my train of thought and could do nothing but wonder who was taking up space in this man’s home?  I ask him “who are you storing stuff for?”

    “Oh, my son, he has so much stuff in the garage that I could never get my car in there. He also has stuff in the spare bedroom,” he said.

    “And how old is your son,” I ask.

    “Oh, about 42,” he said.

    I thought my head was going to explode.  I could not let that go by, just as I seem to get the same deer in the headlight reaction from some people when I talk about storage.  Just because there is room for it, then there is a space for it?

    I know what you are thinking, that I am a cold heartless person not to keep stuff for your children when they hit hard times. But how long is long enough? When your adult children who have spent the last 20 plus years of their lives collection stuff and establishing their own life and life style, it is fair to expect their elderly parents to store their stuff for free? 

    “So let me get this straight,” I ask, “you are giving up square footage of your living space and safe storage for your cars, so your 42 year old son can have free storage for his unneeded and not wanted stuff?”

    “You just don’t understand”, he said. “Do you have kids? If you don’t you just don’t understand”

    He had me there. I don’t have children but I do deal with this situation a lot in my business. So, when is it time to cut the cord?  Is it fair to expect your grown children to take care of their own stuff?  Reality need to bit at some point. But it is a two way street.  As we concluded our conversation when the Lions club meeting started, I had to ask, “Don’t you think you should cut the cord so he has to deal with his own stuff?”

    “We do, but he always attached it again.”  

    “He only does what you let him do.”  There goes the deer in the headlights again. At that point I gave up and ordered another beer.

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012

    Kids in the Kitchen

    The is an article I wrote on request by Kidconnect Magazine. They ask me to write about kids in the kitchen, organizing their stuff, getting snacks etc.  I thought I did a good job and wrote it to what they requested. They wrote back to me saying that it is not what they wanted and good luck with my writing.  Oh well, they were not paying me anyway.

                                                                  Kids in the Kitchen

    The first thing I need to say is that I don’t have any children and I have never had children. However I work with people in my business that have children and I have done a lot of babysitting.  When I walk into a home for the first time that has children, parents say that the house is like this because they have kids. I remember when I was in high school babysitting four children one evening. The house was a wreck and I knew Mom was at the end of her rope and if she did not get out of the house something bad was going to happen.  I am not OCD or a neat freak by any means but this was ridiculous. The first thing I did was put the kids to work. I said we need to do something nice for your Mom so why not clean up the house? That went over big.  So we made a game out of it. We had a race to see who could clean up faster, we had a Star Trek trivia contest while we worked and what  do you know, the kitchen and living room where cleaned up. The kids were in bed and I was watching Johnny Carson when Mom and Dad can home. I was a hero, but the kids did the work.

    The children where between 4 and 8 and able to take on more responsibility. When children are very small parents have a tendency to child proof the home within an inch of its life but once they get older there may be a shift in thinking. Now is the time to move the plates and bowls (yes, the breakable kind!) to the bottom cabinets and the pots and pans to the upper ones. Presto! Thanks to this switcheroo, kids were able to unload the dishwasher and put items away.  

    Children learn what they see not what they are told.  The best way to have a productive, no stress home is to give children a set of rules, routines and boundaries in the kitchen as well as the rest of the home.  By learning this they can connect with food, the home, and cleaning if they know what is expected of them and when. 

    We all know that kitchens can become cluttered and look messy very fast. It’s a high traffic space that requires solid organization in order to stay clean. Get the kids involved in the decluttering so they can learn what is important. Get rid of unnecessary stuff which includes appliances and dishes. Sort out the things that will go to a yard sale or storage and the things that will be used every day.

    Choose drawers and cabinets so kids can access what they need without bothering you while you are fixing dinner and you can still watch what they are doing.  Organize the existing drawers carefully with the children in mind.  Choose cabinets that will suit your kitchen style but will also suit you and your children’s needs

    What started as a bid to get more help may give kids greater freedom. Sure, they stowed dishes — but they also retrieved them to set the table or make a snack. They enjoyed getting more involved, and Mom feels less like an underappreciated short-order cook.

    Many hands lighten the load--and to enlist the maximum number of hands, you'll want to make your kitchen accessible to even the smallest members of the family. Here are a view tips for kids to help around the house:

    1.     Label leftovers using nontoxic dry-erase markers to call attention to lunch and snack possibilities in the fridge

    2.     Teach kids to clean up their own spills with color-coded cloths, hung in an accessible spot.

    3.     Store takeout menus and the latest pizza coupons in a three-ring binder fitted with plastic sleeves.

    4.     Buy plastic bins in a variety of colors and assign one to each family member. Anything cluttering up valuable space (counter, table, or floor) gets whisked into the appropriate bin for disposal or redirection by its owner at some later date. I like this one a lot!

    5.     Limit the number of magnets to only what is necessary like the school lunch menu. Too many magnets make the whole kitchen look messy. Rotate in and out your kids’ outstanding art work so the important stuff can be seen.

    6.     Check out a place for a family calendar or bulletin board.

    Another unexpected benefit of our newly kid-friendly kitchen is that kids can practice hospitality. After playing out in the yard, their entourage of pals can make themselves at home in the kitchen by helping themselves to drinks served from the cups alongside the  plates and bowls and you will be delighted to hear your kids turning on the tap and asking their friends, "Do you want ice with that?"

    Stay tuned for more tips and information on organizing, closets, laundry rooms, kid’s rooms and doing chores along with answers to your questions.