A Practical Guide to Downsizing, Part 3 – Parting with Items

Everyone will face downsizing, yet many people procrastinate because they’re overwhelmed with their volume of belongings. In this final edition of this 3 part series, and I’m going to help you with parting with items.

WHAT ARE THE PROS & CONS OF HAVING A GARAGE SALE OR DONATING ITEMS?

As a veteran professional organizer, I typically advise my clients (who are overwhelmed by clutter already) against garage sales. For those with little time to spare and who relate their time to money, a garage sale can sap your time and energy for relatively little compensation.  However, if you have items of great value, it might be worthwhile to hold a brief, well-advertised sale or to consign the items.  Be sure to evaluate all hidden costs of doing so, such as time spent preparing advertising, pricing items, borrowing and returning tables, and cleaning up.

Donating to charity is always a win-win choice.  Groups often gratefully receive items you no longer use or want, and you get a tax deduction. A great donation value guide can be found at Salvation Army’s site www.SAtruck.org.

WHEN PARING BELONGINGS, WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT?

At first, the sorting and purging process can be a struggle because it involves making decisions that have been delayed and facing years of backlog.  However, as the process gains momentum, people begin to feel more freedom with less stuff and are liberated to pursue the things that really matter to them (which is really why many people downsize in the first place).

After the ball is rolling, and belongings are being re-homed (either to family members or charity, or via a sale) people start to feel relieved of burdens. They make better decisions about accumulation and tend to thin out their possessions on a more regular basis to avoid returning to the burden they left behind.

I hope this practical guide to downsizing series has left you empowered to “right-size” your life!

 

About the author:

Restoring Order founder Vicki Norris

Vicki Norris is a professional organizing expert, dynamic entrepreneur, speaker, television personality, and author who helps people live their priorities. Founder and president of Restoring Order®, an organizing services and products company, Norris teaches others how to identify their priorities and create sustainable change in personal organizational habits that support those choices.

This article and others are available on Vicki Norris’ website at http://www.restoringorder.com/.

A Practical Guide to Downsizing, Part 2

Everyone will face downsizing. I prefer to think of it as right-sizing your life. You’re not losing space and sacrificing belongings; you’re gaining a new season of freedom!

In this second edition of this series, and I’m going to help you with decision-making.

ARE THERE ANY RULES OF THUMB TO SIMPLIFY THINNING YOUR BELONGINGS?

Before you toss an item in a box, determine what category it belongs to and group it with its type.  For example, even though photos and memorabilia may be strewn throughout the house, you can set up boxes in the living room into which all memorabilia will be added as you pack. That way you will know how much space your memorabilia requires, and you can plan its future “home” in your new environment.

Grouping items by type can be shocking once you see all of your similar belongings together. You may discover that you own a disproportionate number of items in one category, like household linens, for example. As you behold a gigantic mound of sheets, bedding, and throw pillows, you may be more willing to pare down that category.

Identifying your priorities, realistically evaluating the available space in your new home, and grouping your belongings by type before you pack will make it easier to let go of your excess.

SHOULD YOU PART WITH ANTIQUES & ITEMS OF VALUE?

Antiques have at least two kinds of value: retail value and sentimental value. You must first determine which type of value your antiques offer. If you are keeping something simply because it “cost a lot” or “might be worth something someday,” then you are banking on its retail value. You can only cash in on this purported value, however, if you are willing to part with the goods.

If you are holding onto items because they evoke precious memories, that is a legitimate reason for retaining the item, within reason. No conscientious friend or professional should advise you to dispose of an object if it would break your heart.

 

About the author:

Restoring Order founder Vicki Norris

Vicki Norris is a professional organizing expert, dynamic entrepreneur, speaker, television personality, and author who helps people live their priorities. Founder and president of Restoring Order®, an organizing services and products company, Norris teaches others how to identify their priorities and create sustainable change in personal organizational habits that support those choices.

This article and others are available on Vicki Norris’ website at http://www.restoringorder.com/.

Enjoying your collections

Recently I heard that young people today don’t really collect things. That’s not the case for those of us from earlier decades. Over the years, we’ve collected memorabilia. Snowmen, dolls, trains, dishes, quilts, teacups, photos, and much more bog down our closets, attics, and minds. But with every added item comes added responsibility. We must pay for it, know where it is, store it, dust it, and insure it. This can be exhausting and expensive!

There comes a time when for whatever the reason, our collections begin to be neglected. Instead of regretting this moment, we must allow ourselves the freedom to find new homes for these special items. Good homes can often be found online or by putting the word out to friends who would appreciate the treasures and continue to celebrate them. Museums and private collectors can be ecstatic to care for (and perhaps even purchase) your items.

As organizing consultants, we are often helping clients “give well” and part with belongings thoughtfully. Careful “rehoming” of collections brings relief and even pride to those who are simplifying, knowing they’re sharing their passion with others. After trimming the volume of your collections, prioritize your favorites so you can actually enjoy them. Hang those legacy quilts on the back of your couch or on the wall. Proudly display your grandmother’s teacups. And please: use the good china!

Vicki Norris, president of Restoring Order®, is a nationally recognized organizing expert, author, and speaker. Her team of professional organizers serves home and business clients in Washington and Oregon. You can watch her organizing segments on KPTV’s Fox 12 More Good Day Oregon. Visit RestoringOrder.com for more information.

Reclaim your space! Restoring order to the family room

One of the best features of any home is the family room—precisely because of the loved ones it convenes! It’s a gathering space, an entertainment den, and a respite from the demands of life.

It can also become a magnet for “everything else.” Our handbags, catalogs, projects, paperwork, pet supplies, reading materials, and media can pile up and add to visual “noise.” This visual clutter detracts from the restfulness of the space.

To retain the respite of this essential space:

  • Define the purpose of the room, including what activities you will do here
  • List the types of items that land here and get stuck
  • Determine whether all those items need to live there or could live in a nearby location
  • Find a new location for items that don’t serve the purpose of the family room
  • Establish a work center somewhere else to eliminate creeping paperwork
  • Create a routing system to whisk away landed items at the end of each night

I also find that occasionally rearranging the furniture and swapping out blankets and pillows seasonally can keep this main thoroughfare fresh and inviting.

Enjoy your orderly family room and especially the ones in it!
For an entire chapter on family room organizing, get my room-by-room organizing book Restoring Order to Your Home.

Vicki Norris, president of Restoring Order®, is a nationally recognized organizing expert, author, and speaker. Her team of professional organizers serves home and business clients in Washington and Oregon. You can watch her organizing segments on KPTV’s Fox 12 More Good Day Oregon. Visit RestoringOrder.com for more information.

Reclaim your space! Restoring order to your kitchen

The kitchen is the gateway to the home. It’s the most congested, most productive, and typically most beloved space—and worth our attention to organize and optimize this essential household thoroughfare.

The key to kitchen organizing is setting it up correctly. If you’re always digging for things, unload the space entirely and begin anew. Assign a purpose to each cabinet and drawer based on frequency of use for the items stored.

An ordered kitchen facilitates preparation and easy cleanup. Create these zones: bakeware (for oven use); cookware, hot pads, and stirrers (for range); food prep (for bowls, colanders, and food processing); storage ware (bags/wraps/containers); beverage station (coffee mugs, hot-drink items); serving pieces/utensils; and everyday dishware and glassware. Establish an office supply drawer and one utility drawer. Label each cabinet and drawer with post-it notes to retrain yourself on items’ new locations.

The food pantry is a related but separate project. If you don’t have a pantry, identify a bank of cabinets to dedicate to food, ingredients, and daily vitamins/supplements.

Finally, create room for comfortable conversation, beauty, and hospitality, which are the central functions of a healthy, welcoming kitchen. These touches make a kitchen personal and inviting. Now, enjoy your ordered heart-of-the-home kitchen!

An entire chapter on kitchen organizing is featured in my room-by-room organizing book Restoring Order to Your Home.

Vicki Norris, president of Restoring Order®, is a nationally recognized organizing expert, author, and speaker. Her team of professional organizers serves home and business clients in Washington and Oregon. You can watch her organizing segments on KPTV’s Fox 12 More Good Day Oregon. Visit RestoringOrder.com for more information.

Guest post: Restoring order to your closet

The closet is an intimate space. In it, we store our memories, hang our good intentions, stow our beliefs, and catalogue our image. In order to overhaul a clothes-closet and ensure your efforts last, you will need to unload the space completely. Clear your bedroom of clutter, make the bed, and have lots of laundry baskets (and, if possible – a rolling garment rack) for sorting and organizing items.

Begin the macrosort. Remove items by type: pants, skirts, jackets, etc. Shirts (for instance) will likely require several piles: tanks, short sleeve, long sleeve, etc. Add each type into an orderly pile or bin. Don’t try to make decisions at this point.

Conduct the microsort. Go through each pile one at a time and evaluate quantity. Only keep your favorites. Decision-making about clothing can be emotional. It’s okay to keep items with fond memories or in the size we used to wear; however, problems occur when we have kept so many of these we no longer have room for the things we do wear and enjoy!

If the framework of the closet is insufficient, consider a custom closet install. If the existing system is acceptable, clean and vacuum the closet and reload. For a full chapter on closet organizing, get my room-by-room organizing book Restoring Order to Your Home.

Vicki Norris, president of Restoring Order®, is a nationally recognized organizing expert, author, and speaker. Her team of professional organizers serves home and business clients in Washington and Oregon. You can watch her organizing segments on KPTV’s Fox 12 More Good Day Oregon. Visit RestoringOrder.com for more information.

Guest post: Reducing clutter

Our lives are filled with extraneous stuff that clogs our minds and space. To take back your life, begin by examining which kinds of clutter need to be cleared from your life:

Physical clutter—Symptoms: piles, stacks, and layered surfaces. Remedy: Purpose your space. Dig out and create a baseline you can maintain, and then assign a home to each category of items.

Time clutter—Symptoms: Out-of-control schedules, over-commitment, and lack of prioritization. Remedy: Discover your life’s purpose and priorities, and then align daily activities around that bigger picture.

Financial clutter—Symptoms: Overwhelm, fear, and resistance to tackle a project. Remedies: Invest in organizing your permanent filing system, establish a better flow of incoming paper, and create customized systems for recurrent tasks.

Relational clutter—Symptoms: Endless drama, neediness, anger at others, or unhealthy relationships. Remedy: Forgive yourself and others, and surround yourself with those who bring out the best you!

Emotional clutter—Symptoms: mental torment, circular thinking, stress, confusion, depression, and the like. Remedy: Pursue emotional healing. Trade in the lies and hurts of the past and present for truth.

Spiritual clutter—Symptoms: racing on the hamster wheel of life, harried days disconnected from our spiritual nature. Remedy: Align your spirit, soul, and body.

Pick one or several areas of life clutter and begin “clearing clogs” today!

Vicki Norris, president of Restoring Order®, is a nationally recognized organizing expert, author, and speaker. Her team of professional organizers serves home and business clients in Washington and Oregon. You can watch her organizing segments on KPTV’s Fox 12 More Good Day Oregon. Visit RestoringOrder.com for more information.

Establishing orderly financial systems

This article is the second in a three-part series from professional organizer Vicki Norris on getting organized to help save money. Look for more posts from Vicki coming soon!

The number one request our professional organizing company receives is to help people deal with an overwhelming amount of paper. We all receive an onslaught of paper daily, and not managing it can adversely affect our finances. At best, financial disorder causes mistakes, late fees, overpaying, raised interest rates, and debt. At worst, chaos in our finances can destroy our credit simply due to inaction on paperwork stagnating on our desks.

To ensure your money stays in your pocket, put your finances in order. When you take the time to organize your finances and paperwork systems, you take back a long-lost sense of control.

Here are some planning and organizational steps I recommend:

  • Establish a budget (A cash system is a simple solution.)
  • Create a plan to pay off any debt
  • Set up a receipt-management system to track and categorize expenses
  • Establish a bill-paying system to eliminate late fees

As you organize your finances, you will begin recapturing money you have been losing. You’ll stop living wastefully and find yourself becoming more resourceful. And with all the money you’ll reclaim, you will have more funds for doing the things you love to do!

Vicki Norris, president of Restoring Order®, is a nationally recognized organizing expert, author, and speaker. Her team of professional organizers serves home and business clients in Washington and Oregon. You can watch her organizing segments on KPTV’s Fox 12 More Good Day Oregon. Visit RestoringOrder.com for more information.

Streamlining household order

This article is the second in a three-part series from professional organizer Vicki Norris on getting organized to help save money. Look for part three next month, and more posts from Vicki coming soon!

This month, I show you how to sew that hole in your pocket by restoring order at home.

1. Eliminate clutter. When you ditch the stuff clogging your space, you can recapture money. Sell the items you don’t use or want, or just donate the items and deduct them on your taxes, but remember to keep the records.

2. Organize the belongings you do want. Start with the spaces you use the most. Identify a purpose for each space and gather materials related to each activity (i.e., put the entertainment items like music and videos in your family room since the room’s purpose is family entertainment). When you can easily find everything, you can enjoy what you own; you will end the constant search for belongings and won’t have to buy replacements; and you’ll be less tempted to overspend with a little retail therapy.

3. Resolve to end your wasteful ways at home. Use up the things you have before you buy more. Make a weekly meal plan doubling those you can for easy freezer-dinner nights. Call your cable company, cell service provider, and insurance providers to ensure you are getting the best plan or to negotiate a lower rate.

Here’s to thoughtful household streamlining!

Vicki Norris, president of Restoring Order®, is a nationally recognized organizing expert, author, and speaker. Her team of professional organizers serves home and business clients in Washington and Oregon. You can watch her organizing segments on KPTV’s Fox 12 More Good Day Oregon. Visit RestoringOrder.com for more information.

Becoming Mindful of Wastefulness

This article is the first in a three-part series from professional organizer Vicki Norris on getting organized to help save money. Look for part two next month, and more posts from Vicki coming soon!

Do you find yourself tossing rotten food due to poor meal planning? Have you paid more in late fees or premiums, because you couldn’t face the mountain of paperwork?

 If so, you have a hole in your pocket! We all think about saving money; however, if we focus solely on spending less, we miss a big opportunity to save by trimming wastefulness.

In almost two decades as a professional organizer, I have been waist-deep in people’s belongings and “overage”. They have overspent, overaccumulated, overstashed, and overdone it! While they likely know they have spent too much or procrastinated one-too-many-times, they may not realize their haphazard habits are siphoning their money!

The opportunity to save is in our home and habits, and together, we are digging out. Expand your focus from simply watching pennies to trimming wastefulness. When you get organized, you will be amazed how much money you will save.

This month, note areas of waste in your home and life and take action to scale those back. Next month, I’ll reveal how to create household order to recover funds. In the third post, I’ll share simple financial systems to end wastefulness. Here’s to an ordered year of good stewardship!

Vicki Norris, president of Restoring Order®, is a nationally recognized organizing expert, author, and speaker. Her team of professional organizers serves home and business clients in Washington and Oregon. You can watch her organizing segments on KPTV’s Fox 12 More Good Day Oregon. Visit RestoringOrder.com for more information.