You may be hesitant to begin working with a professional organizer because you just arent' sure where to find someone that will work well with you and do so within your budget. There is a wide range of options available and usually a solution for everyone. To find the best professional for your situation, follow these 5 steps.
1. Search directories for organizers near you. Some good places to start are FindMyOrganizer.com or NAPO.net. NAPO is the National Association of Professional Organizers and will only list members of NAPO in their directory. Not all professional organizers are members, so you will not get a comprehensive list here. FindMyOrganizer.com is a directory that organizers can place a free or paid listing. You can find great options here according to your location or keywords. Find a few in your area that appeal to you and provide the services you are requesting.
2. While you can contact organizers through the directories, they may not get your request if they didn't pay for a listing. So, step 2 is to do research on those organizers you found in the directory that offer the services you want. Most organizers have a website, facebook, instagram, or pinterest page. Look through those to get an idea of the organizer's work. You may find other information that will help you narrow your choices even more.
3. Contact the organizers that you have researched - by email, website, phone, etc. You'll want to have some questions ready to ask. Minimally, you'll want to ask: What are your rates? Do you have experience working with clients with (downsizing, ADD, full house organizing, etc)? What is your availability? Beyond those initial questions, you might also ask how many years have they been in business (you may want to check them out on the Better Business Bureau), and do they have any package pricing or discounts available.
4. If you were satisfied with the organizer's answers in your initial contact, the next step is to setup your first appointment. Many organizers offer a free in-home estimate. You might take advantage of this to get to meet the organizer before you decide to hire them. Usually, this is a short appointment, but you can get an idea if their personality and work style will be a good fit for you. Otherwise, you can schedule a paid consultation or an initial organizing session. The important thing is to not lock yourself into any further sessions with the organizer until you have confirmed they are a good match for you. The organizing process will likely not be successful if you feel uncomfortable with the organizer.
5. The last step is to evaluate your interactions with the organizer during the in-person visit. Did you feel good after the visit? Were you able to ask questions and get good answers? Did the organizer appear and act professional during the visit? If you know you've found a good match, you can go ahead and setup additional organizing sessions according to your needs and your budget.
Most of the time, I would suggest clients follow all 5 steps before hiring me, but sometimes, clients hire me after speaking with me in step 3 - the intial contact. And that's ok, too. The important thing is to be comfortable with the knowledge, experience and workstyle of your organizer so that you can move to a clutter-free, ordered home!
I'm super thankful for my spouse. We generally agree on major things - like religion, politics and money. Of course, that isn't by happenstance. We both went into our dating relationship with the mindset of finding someone who was compatible with our own viewpoints on those very important aspects of our lives. I realize, though, that isn't always the case. Having disagreements with your significant other in these areas can put major stress on a relationship. I'm going to steer clear of discussing religion and politics in this post (although, if you ask, I'll certainly tell you what I believe 😊). But I will address coming to agreement on finances in a relationship.
Anytime you're in a committed long-term relationship (whether married or not) and living in the same home, you're going to need to come to some sort of agreement on how money is earned, saved and spent. If you have a different "money personality" than your partner, this is going to take some compromise and understanding. You may be struggling with how to broach the subject without causing a divide (or an existing divide to get wider). Here are some ideas that might help.
First, get your mindset right. Your goal is not to "win," but to come to a reasonable compromise. This means you're not going to get everything you want, and you probably aren't going to be completely in love with the outcome… But it most likely will be a solution you both can live with.
Second, don't ambush them. You shouldn't bring the conversation up with out a bit of warning. They aren't going to feel prepared for the conversation, which could lead to a plethora of reactions. Your partner might dig in his heels and be unwilling to move on any point, or he might refuse to discuss at all because you have the upper hand.
Third, it's unlikely you'll resolve this issue to a satisfactory agreement in the middle of an argument. In the heat of the moment, neither you nor your partner will have a rational outlook on the issue. Let the argument pass.
Finally, look for an opportunity when you're both relaxed and in reasonable moods to open the discussion. At this point, you're not looking to actually talk about the finances. Rather, you're going to let your partner know that you want to find a solution to your ongoing disagreements about finances that work well for both of you. Ask her if she would be willing to set some time aside in the next week or so to talk about it with you. This does a couple of things - it gives your significant other time to prepare for the conversation and it expresses your desire to compromise to meet her needs and goals.
To prepare for the conversation, ask your partner to make a list of concerns that he would like addressed in the solution. You do the same. Also, each of you should make a list of goals or outcomes that you hope to see, such as "come up with a budget," or "figure out who will be paying what bills." These goals will be dependent on your specific situation.
When you are talking about finances and discussing your concerns, you each should take a turn discussing a concern and try to find a potential solution for each one. You may not solve everything in this discussion, but it does open the door. Try to make allowances for each person. Keep in mind that everything may not work out to be 50/50… that's not how real life usually ends up. And, remember, your goal isn't to win, but to make your relationship and your financial future better.
Before you end the conversation, ask your partner if he would be willing to have these discussions routinely (schedule it!) so that you both stay on track and hopefully avoid any future misunderstandings. It won't always be smooth sailing, but it is progress!
If you tried this - let me know how it worked out for you!
2. Decide on a budget. How much can you afford to spend on what you have decided to purchase? Take only that amount of cash into the shop with you. Don't make exceptions! If you find what you need, but it's more than you planned to spend, walk away.
3. Try on the item before you buy. If you're shopping for clothes, don't leave the store without knowing that it will fit. Most resale shops have a fitting room, so take advantage of it. Most of us wouldn't think to purchase a brand new garment without trying it on, so why do we do it at thrift stores? If you're purchasing furniture or other household items, be sure it fits your space and is in decent shape. Be sure to understand the shop's policy on returning purchases. They may not allow it.
Sure, you can sometimes treat yourself - walking in without a formal list of what you're going to buy, just looking for that special something that catches your eye. Even when treating yourself, try never to buy something that doesn't have a purpose or use in your life. But, above all, never shop without a budget in mind.
The living room (den, family room, hangout space... whatever you want to call it) is the entertainment space in the home. We gather here to chat, watch movies, and sometimes play games. This room tends to look cluttered for a few reasons. We need enough seating and tables for people and drinks and we need other furniture for storage for all the entertainment stuff we have.
I recommend you start by clearing out everything but the furniture. This way, you can get a good perspective on the quantity and scale of your furniture in relation to the size of your room. You might always feel like you don't have enough seating, but you can't get anymore in the room because everything you have is over-sized and overstuffed. Consider getting smaller apartment sized furnishings. These are slightly smaller versions of sofas, love seats and chairs that fit better in small spaces.
If you have a large coffee table in the room, think about replacing it with a couple of storage ottomans with a tray on top. These now are multi-purpose - tables or seats, whichever is needed more. I love the ottoman pictured here - the seat flips over to become a tray! Or, you could just replace the coffee table with a couple of smaller tables
ext, think about storage for your living room. What sorts of things need to be stored here? Do you have a collection you'd like to display? What about entertainment items like DVDs, board games, video games or gaming systems? You'll want to have at least a little bit of open storage and a little bit of closed storage.
PURGE!!! When you have a small space, it's important that you only keep the things in the room that really need to be there. If you have a large collection, you're not going to be able to display it all. Try only displaying only your favorite 2 or 3 pieces and putting the rest in storage (or possibly letting someone else enjoy). For the entertainment items, keep only those things in the room that you use often - have closed storage for those things. A smaller scale storage unit, cube storage, or wall shelves can be great storage.
Remember, with cube storage and with any visible (open) storage, you want to leave space. Don't fill every available inch with stuff. It will only make the room fill smaller because there is no "negative" space for the eye to land.
Do you need some help in deciding what should go in your small living room and how to maximize your use of space? I'd love to help with organizing or design ideas. Comment below, or contact me to reserve your session.
For some reason, bedrooms often end up being a "catch-all," especially in a small home. To prevent this from happening, you need to decide the specific purpose of this room and be very mindful of sticking to that purpose. For example, you may decide that your bedroom is going to function as both a bedroom and a small office. Then, only allow things that are necessary for those functions to remain in the space. Everything else needs to find a different home.
Beyond being very specific about the purpose of the room, three things are important when organizing the small bedroom.
1. Keep clutter (and other things) to a minimum.
No one really wants to look at a cluttered dresser or vanity as they're trying to relax at night. It's important that you tidy up frequently so that everything gets put back in place before you go to bed. If you've read any of my other blot posts, you probably would have come across my "15 minute" bedtime routine. Use some of that time to tidy up surfaces in your room.
Other things that can clutter up your small bedroom: furniture and clothing. If you can't easily navigate around the furniture in your room, you have too much. Maybe you can use a smaller bed. Or, you could take out the nightstand if you have a headboard that has shelves or cubbies. Remove furniture that isn't used often. Be thoughtful about what you actually need for storage.
Almost all of us have too much clothing. There is an often quoted statistic that we wear 20% of our clothing 80% of the time. Let go of anything you haven't worn in the last 2 years - you probably don't like it or it doesn't fit right. Also, get rid of clothing that is stained, ripped or otherwise in disrepair. Decide on a specific number of jeans, shirts, etc and only keep what you actually wear.
2. Be clever about the type and placement of storage.
Not everything has to be a piece of furniture that sits on the floor. Get wall shelving that you can store things on. In small spaces, both closed and open storage is important, but lean towards closed storage that can be kept neat and tidy.
If you need to have a desk or vanity space in your room, consider getting a fold down desk like this one from Amazon. You get hidden storage and a work surface!
3. Don't forget hidden storage areas.
The closet immediately comes to mind for most people - and yes, that is a great storage space, provided it's decluttered and things are put away neatly. Don't just throw things on the shelves. Depending on what you need to access, get open fabric bins to get to things easily, or closed totes to stack on shelves.
Also think about storing things under the bed. If your bed isn't currently tall enough to get under, think about using bed risers. Make sure they are heavy duty and made for beds and not other types of furniture.
Storage space in a bathroom is almost always at a premium. Even more so when you barely have enough room to turn around when the door is shut! Yes, I've had a bathroom this small - where a pedestal sink and a narrow tub barely fit in the room. In my case, I didn't even have a linen (or any other type of) closet anywhere close to the bathroom. I had to be very selective about what I chose to keep in the bathroom and what was stored elsewhere and brought into the room when needed.
If you've read some of my other posts, you know I stress thinking vertically. You have more than just your floor space. Add shelves, if possible. When you do, though, also purchase some containers that fit on the shelves to store things out of site. If you can't put shelves on the wall because the door bangs into them, or you'll hit your head when you get out of the shower, think about adding shelves in the wall between the studs. A wall niche like the one shown here from Amazon can be helpful. Or, you can just build your own. Of course, the shelves would only be about 3 inches deep, but you do a lot with that space.
Don't forget the back of the door. Use hooks here for towels or bathrobes. Or, instead, you could use an over-the-door shoe organizer for extra storage here. Just make sure whatever product you use can be easily cleaned - whether it can be wiped down with all-purpose cleaner, or thrown in a washing machine. Small bathrooms especially are prone to excess moisture, which can lead to mildew if there isn't sufficient ventilation.
If you have a pedestal sink, you can purchase an organizer that wraps around the pedestal. This is open storage, but every little bit counts. To have some closed storage, you might be able to use an over-the-toilet shelf. Sometimes, these won't work because of how close the sink or bathtub might be to the toilet - so make sure you measure before purchasing. Look for units that have doors or drawers in them.
Consider shower or bathtub options, too. You can find storage units that use tension rods from the tub to the ceiling. These can work well - just remember to remove them and clean under and around them. Otherwise, find caddies that hang over the shower head. Most suction cup caddies don't hold enough weight and tend to be more trouble than they're worth.
I feel like I just got the tip of the iceberg here, but I hope this helps! Do you have other ideas? Let me know what you're struggling with in your small space.
While I'm blessed to now live in a home where we recently remodeled our kitchen and I have plenty of counter and cabinet space, this was not always the case. One place had only 2 upper cabinets and 2 lower cabinets. The only counter top was next to the sink. Plus, it was an "eat-in" kitchen, so there was a small dining table there, too. That was probably the smallest, but I had a couple others that were almost just as small. Needless to say, I had to learn to be creative with the space.
One of the things I learned along the way - be very picky with what you decide to keep or buy. This applies to food, cookware, and appliances. I did not buy food in bulk (I had no where outside of the kitchen to store things, either). I changed my habit of shopping every two weeks to going weekly. Planning your list is a must - you can't buy too much extra because you don't have the space for it. Also, only have small appliances that you absolutely need - and bonus points for appliances that serve multiple functions. If only the InstaPot was a thing back then! You might have to decide that you can live without a toaster oven, a crock pot, a food processor, etc. Instead use your range, and opt for a microwave and a blender that can chop food. Then, only keep the minimum amount of cookware and other dishes you use. If you have a family of four, only keep enough plates and drinkware for your family plus two more, in case of guests.
Beyond limiting the items in the space, make sure you're using the space you do have efficiently. Think about space you have on the walls, under cabinets, and on the ceiling. Can you add open shelving on a wall? This doesn't have to be pricey shelving - just some nice brackets with stained or painted 1x12 lumber would work nicely. Can you hang a small pot rack - and hang serving utensils there along with your pots and pans?
precious drawer space.
One other thing to consider - keep your counter tops as uncluttered as possible! Put things away when you're done using them. Clean up the dishes right away, rather than letting them pile up. Keeping the counter tops open will make the space feel bigger, which is almost as important as actually being bigger!
What ideas do you have for a small kitchen? Let me know in the comments!
Spring is here!!! I love seeing and hearing all the birds that have returned to our area. We have sandhill cranes (noisy but interesting), geese, and all sorts of songbirds. When I hear the cranes in early March, I know it's time for spring decluttering. Ok, Ok, I know - it's supposed to be spring cleaning. But, you can't get to the cleaning until you move all the stuff out of the way. You might as well do a bit of a purge while you're at it.
I find that beginning with clothing is helpful. Depending on the part of the country you live in, you might be switching out your seasonal clothes. Instead of packing away all the winter stuff, evaluate what you've worn this year, and what you haven't. Has that well loved sweater finally been worn out? Look for excess pilling, holes or stains. Donate children's clothing that they won't fit into next year.
In the kitchen, pull out plastic storage containers - recycle those that have seen better days. Go through food in the pantry and toss anything expired or open boxes/bags of food that has gone stale. Sort through cookware and get rid of nonstick pots and pans that have had the coating chipped off.
The bathroom can be decluttered, too. Old medicines that have expired should be disposed of properly. Half used bottles of shampoos and beauty supplies that you decided you didn't like need to go. Then, look at your towels - are they threadbare or have holes? You can turn one or two into cleaning rags, but throw out the rest.
Depending on how much spring decluttering you want to do, you could even move into storage areas - basements, attics, closets. What things have you been holding on to for years? Are they really useful - what's their purpose? Take a hard look and get into the spirit of the season by getting rid of the old stuff so that you can begin with a fresh outlook.
What's your spring declutter plan? If you don't have one or are having trouble getting started, I'm happy to help! Contact me or comment below.
You probably experience this year after year - you think you're ready to file your taxes, but finding them and ensuring you have what you need is difficult and time-consuming. If your tax preparer spends more time sorting through your receipts and documents than preparing your taxes, you have a problem. Why not get started off on the right foot for next year?
When it comes to setting up a system, simpler is better. But, simpler does not mean everything thrown randomly into a cardboard box - or a plastic bag (yes, I've seen this)! If you create a storage system that is too complex, you won't use it. It becomes cumbersome to file anything away, so you resort to the box method. One of the better methods that works for most people is either a very small file box with hanging files, or an accordion file folder. The one listed below is great because it closes, has enclosed sides and is very portable. Or, if you need something that's heavy duty, choose the plastic banker's box style.
Aim to have only 7 or categories, as you may find it too difficult to manage if you go beyond that. For example, instead of having separate files for your retirement account and your non-retirement related investments, it might make sense to combine those into one file, just labeled investments.
Speaking of labels, be sure you do label your tabs or folders. It does no good to come up with categories if you don't clearly label things. Trust me, I know people who don't label... and they end up getting very confused. When you only have a few categories, labeling can be quick. Labels can be as simple as a post-it note stuck on the tab, or as fancy as a machine made label. Whatever works for you is fine, as long as the label doesn't fall off and is clear to you what is contained in that file.
So, do yourself a favor for next year and get this ready now. It will only take you a few minutes, but save you a ton of time next year. If you aren't sure how to get started, get in touch. I'm happy to help!
I must confess, I don't have an emergency kit in my car. I live in Wisconsin - it's winter... snowstorms happen, accidents happen. What am I thinking? Apparently, I'm not. I've lived in this state for more than 20 years and I've been lucky enough that I've had good Samaritans stop and help when I've been stuck. But, I'm sure my luck will only hold so long. Not to mention, I have 2 teenage boys driving now. It's definitely past time to get emergency kits for the cars.
So, what do you need in your emergency kit? Think things that will keep you warm, safe and nourished.
Jennifer Raschig loves to share thoughts on creating restful spaces and presenting your best self every day.