Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Clutter vs. Collections

It's happening everywhere - garage sales abound as the spring cleaning bug hits neighbourhoods everywhere. A Saturday morning, coffee in hand, perusing the garage sales and flea markets can be a fun start to a spring weekend. Perhaps you pick up another book on old boats which you love so much, or an addition to your 1950's Irish stoneware.

Reality hits when you return home to find the bookshelf full and the china cabinet overflowing onto the counter, table and sideboard. "What was a thinking?" you ask yourself, "I'm surrounded in clutter but I love my collection."

You are facing a dilemma that is very common to many clients. Many, many of us have established collections of various items over the years. Whether one is downsizing, house clearing or just de-cluttering, the question of de-cluttering a collection is a difficult one.

One definition of clutter comes from the world of gardening. A weed is, for many gardeners, merely a plant growing where it is not wanted. Similarly, clutter can be defined as any item that is hanging around where it is not wanted. Perhaps the main difference between clutter and a collection is the relative value of the items to the world at large. A collection of stamps may have relative value in the world of stamp collecting. At the same time, if the stamp collection is collecting dust at your house, taking up space you wish to free for some other purpose, to you it may be merely clutter.

So, how does one downsize the collection of tea cups? The same way one purges any other group of items. Our collections usually arrive one or two pieces at a time and during their growth, we usually develop a few favourites amongst the group. Start with a photograph of the collection. Keep those few favourites to remind you of the fun your had collecting and the beauty you see it the items themselves. Free the rest to another collector who is still growing their collection or pass on a few more to friends who have admired your collection in the past. The items have a new lease on life and you have freed up your space.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Garden Shed Time - It's Spring

For Canadians, this weekend brings the long awaited Victoria Day Weekend - the first of our almost monthly summer long weekends and traditionally the weekend for cottage openings and annual plantings.

If you are heading for garden, this will be a great weekend to organize that shed. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Start by emptying the entire shed if feasible. Once it is empty, you will be able to start with a clean slate.
  • Sweep out the cobwebs, mouse droppings and other debris.
  • Review all your tools, shovels, rakes and hoes. Are there any that are broken, rusted or beyond repair? Throw out the unrepairable and fix what's needed.
  • Think vertical and you will find lots more fresh storage space that you may not have realized existed. The rakes, hoes, shovels can be stored on hooks or nails on the walls. This will get them out of the way and make them readily available when you are ready to rake.
  • Hang one shopping bag on another hook or nail to hold your digging and planting tools and a separate one for your garden gloves. The cloth recycled plastic bags readily available in stores are a great storage tool. Label with a permanent marker.
  • Seeds that are stored in a plaster or metal box will be out of temptation's way if rodents are a regular visitor to your shed. This is especially true of grass seed.
  • Review your solution bottles and know your pesticide by-laws. Many jurisdictions have outlawed the use of pesticides. Check with your municipality to see where you can take the pesticides for disposal. Then check out your local garden centre to find an environmentally friendly alternative.
  • Go vertical to store your plant food, insect repellent and anti fungal/bacterial agents. No matter how eco-friendly they may be, they are still not child friendly. Store them high on a shelf, clearly labelled.
  • Make sure your shed is childproof for entry. Kids love to play in beautiful gardens full of butterflies, colourful flowers and sweet smelling blooms. Consider a secure lock or latch for the shed and a separate toy box that the kids can use outside the shed.

Last but not least, when your work is done, put up your feet and enjoy your garden!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The O-C Connection

.. And we are not talking Orange County here folks.

This is "end of year" season. The concerts, open houses, school events, choir performances, track meets are coming at me at such a fast pace my online calendar and handheld device can barely keep up.

Oh, that's right. It's May again. I should have known. It happens every May and September.

Sound familiar? When events collide all at once to load up our scheduling demands that "O" word often creeps into our vocabulary - Overwhelm.

Counter with with "C" word - control. The more control you can muster the more easily you will glide through this maze of events like an organizing time professional. Anticipation will help with the control. Look out to the next couple of weeks and see what's coming. The more you can anticipate the less likely things will catch you off guard and the more likely you are to feel in control.

Follow up with the "R" word - Relax. This too will pass. Summer is coming. And beside, the kids will only be young once. Enjoy.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Ten Minute Challenge

The ten minute challenge is one of my favourite organizing techniques. It's great for getting kids involved in a daily clean up and when used regularly, is highly effective at keeping one's home organized.

Give each person in your home a bag - the new recycled shopping bags are great for this. Let everyone know they have 10 minutes to fill their bag with items that are not in their homes and need to return to wherever that home is.

A common variation on this strategy is to fill the bag with items that the individual is no longer using, no longer wants, fits etc. This is a great way to show children that items we are finished with can be cleared out regularly and passed on to other children.