Sort It ~ Professional Organizing for the Toronto Area


Take a look at my guest blog post for the Girl Guides of Canada 🙂

GirlGuidesCANBlog

As a Brownie (Leader), I am honest and kind. I help take care of the world around me.

One of my favourite badges to work on with our girls is the Community Counts badge. For us, it has taken many different forms over the years, but the enthusiasm is always the same.

The suggested requirements are:

  • Help a neighbour with a chore.
  • Take flowers or a card to someone at a seniors’ centre and visit with them.
  • Help out at a food bank, community garden or other community service.
  • Choose another way that you would like to serve your community, and do that.

You may remember a few years ago when Girl Guides of Canada offered their help in sorting cork so that it could be recycled. Well, we were one of those Units. Despite the fact that my father complained that his van smelled like a “drunk tank” every…

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Test Post #2

Hello Everyone! I just wanted to let you know that I’ve moved my blog over to my company website (www.sortit.ca). I’m not sure if you followers have been transferred over, but if you haven’t, please feel free to follow me there (or, here as it would be, as it is supposed to transfer over…).

This is just a test to see if the transfer works. You may have to refollow in order to get the updated blog posts.

I hope you like the new site! Please let me know your thoughts 🙂

Lastly, if you could please let me know if you’ve received this notification as an email by simply commenting below, I would really appreciate it. Thank you!

~ Liz


Conquer Your Closet – Part Deux

About six months ago, I wrote a blog about clearing out and organizing your closet (Conquer Your Closet). Typically, after I write a post, I pester my husband to see if he’s read it. Well, he showed me. When I got home that night, he had flipped all my hangers around. “Practice what you preach,” he said. You see, in my previous post, I wrote that it is handy to flip your hangers around, then when you wear an item, you turn the hanger the right way around again. In six months you’ll have a very good picture as to what you wear, and what you may want to look at again. So, here I am, and here’s my closet six months ago, and today:

Six Months Ago

Today

So, there you have it. I counted and I have 16 hangers that are still reversed. Now, for the record, I have been letting go of clothing items that aren’t right for me, so I’ve been able to maintain the amount of clothing I have, for the most part. Here are the items that haven’t seen the light of day in the last 6 months:

Yes, there’s a disco shirt there, and yes, there’s a Hawaiian shirt, too, but since my husband and I work with the youth at our church, you need a couple of choice items that only see the light of day once in a while (notice I said “couple”, not “3 or 4 choices per occasion”). I have taken my forlorn items, and grouped them together, at the front of my closet. I see a few of them going in the next little while, and a couple being worn in the near future, as well. I’ve also trimmed down a bit since my last purge, so perhaps these items will fit better than last time.

There are a few benefits to having less:

1. Less laundry – You won’t let it sit around and pile up if you need a pair of underoos.

2. Quicker decision making – Less choices makes getting dressed in the morning much more efficient. Unless you lay out what you wear the night before… but I don’t 🙂

3. Someone else is blessed by your things – My friends regularly pass on their items to me, and I love it! They’re new to me, but they’re tired of them. Give your clothes a new chance to make someone else feel good.

We’ll see the condition of my closet when I get home tonight… I’m weary 😛

How do you decide how much clothing is enough?


Souvenirs

I know that this is over a week late, but HAPPY CANADA DAY!!! The reason for my tardiness for my blog post is that my hubby took me to Ottawa (the capital of Canada) for the Canada Day festivities. We had a wonderful time, and even got to eat poutine and a beaver tail on Parliament Hill.

Being first time in Ottawa, so we tried to see as much as we could. After watching the Changing of the Guard, we learned about the history of the War of 1812 (200th anniversary this year), and enjoyed a concert. We then proceeded to get free samples, and visit Rideau Hall. We tried to get into the Royal Canadian Mint, however we got there too late, so we went later on in the week. Our Canada Day finished off with a fun concert, and an impressive fireworks display (some were in the shape of a maple leaf!).

I would like to share a fun Canadian fact with you, which has left me proud since I heard about it. As some of you may know, we hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver (remember? The one with no snow? 😛 ). All of the medals were designed and made at the Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa (we have a second in Winnipeg, Manitoba where our currency is made). The medals were quite unique, and had a wavy texture (not easily visible in the photo, sorry):

2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Medals – Source: Canadian Olympic Committee

What I didn’t know was that the medals were all unique, and when placed together, would create an image of an Orca (for the Olympics) and a Raven (for the Paralympics). The orca is a strong animal, one that lives in a community. The raven signifies overcoming obstacles, which I am certain many of the Paralymians can identify with. Also, this was the first time in the history of the Olympics that the size of the medals for the Olympics were the same size as those for the Paralympics (Go Canada!).

Now that I’ve expanded your Canadian history, let me ask you a question: Do you buy souvenirs when you go on vacation? We’ve bought a couple of things here and there, but we have never been into the kitschy souvenirs. You know the ones. I live in Toronto, and near Niagara Falls – if you can put an image on it, they’ll sell it. You can get t-shirts, magnets, shot glasses, surf boards, statues, postcards – you name it! Apparently, there’s even a book dedicated to it called Crap Souvenirs!

So, let me speak on behalf of your loved ones: Please refrain from buying tacky souvenirs that will fall apart in the not-near-enough future. Some are tasteful, I can agree to that. But more often than not, they’re just plain ugly. Let’s not encourage clutter, eh? 😀 (You had to see that one being worked in here somewhere, right?)

What’s the worst souvenir you’ve either seen, or received?


Card Conundrum

What do you do with cards? I was challenged by a client the other day, who likes to keep all the cards she has received over the years. As you can imagine, there are a LOT of cards that need to be stored. So, I got to thinking, what do I do with them?

When I was a teenager, I would keep all my cards. As I entered university, I decided that I would keep only the cards that I really loved, and that could be added to my “pick me up” box – a box filled with things to give me a little “pick me up” when needed. When I got married, I did away with the box, and only keep a few, select cards now (note to self: get a memory box to house such cards – my dresser drawer is not sufficient).

Christmas cards are interesting in our house. As you may know, my hubby and I are Christians, so my Mom gave me a great idea (she probably read it on one of the blogs she follows): put them in a basket, and pray for one person each night.

On January 1st, I take all the old cards, cut off the front, and give them to a person at our church who sends them over to Africa (if they haven’t been written on) – they use them as Sunday School prizes. The new batch of Christmas cards go in the box, and we’re all set for the next year. That way we’ve really been able to enjoy them for a year, and are ready to make way for the new ones 🙂

Then there are the cards from our Wedding:

Having just celebrated our 4th anniversary this month, I have struggled with what to do with these cards. Every time I went to give them the old “heave ho”, I was overcome by the amount of love we received when we tied the knot. Couple that with reading cards from loved ones who have passed on, and I just couldn’t do it. So, imagine my excitement when I came across a suitable pin on Pinterest. The idea is to bind your cards in such a way that will make them easier to look at. So, I created my own version:

In the original pin, she had made one book, but I have no idea how she fit all those cards in one. Granted, in these books are also our wedding shower cards.

It was very interesting though, when I finally sat down to go through them, I also found sympathy cards (not that we got married, but my father-in-law passed away – just wanted to be clear), thank you notes (address to us, not others), and a Christmas card. It’s amazing how unmarked areas can quickly become a catch all 🙂

What do you do with the cards you receive? Please feel free to also cast your vote on this poll.


And I Don’t Iron My Sheets

Last last week, I was folding our laundry, and I got to thinking about my past blog post (I Don’t Like Shopping). It occurred to me that it might have come off a bit pretentious, as I sat there, all high and mighty, screaming for the rooftops my dislike of shopping, and therefore my theoretical lack of clutter.

However, just because I don’t like to shop doesn’t mean I don’t accumulate things. It’s truly amazing the amount of stuff one accumulates simply by living. As many of you know, I’m a Brownie leader with the Girl Guides of Canada. Being in this role means that I am “blessed” with old craft supplies, old Brownie books, and basically a bunch of stuff that other guiders don’t want to have hanging around their house anymore. My husband and I are also part time youth pastors, which means that we have curriculum, party supplies, and forgotten Bibles almost all the time.

Which leads to me to an extension of a previous post, Confessions of a Professional Organizer. Whenever I go to a client’s home, or tell someone that I’m a professional organizer, they will inevitably comment that my home must be pristine, to which my husband usually rolls his eyes, or snorts to indicate that that is certainly not the case. In response, I usually tell people that although I know where almost everything is in my home, it is not “pristine” by any means (unless I’ve had a weekend to actually get some housework done). So, no, I don’t iron my sheets. Actually, in all honesty, I just gave my mother my iron, because in the 4 years I have been married, I haven’t ironed once! Shhh! It’s my dirty little secret. We use the dryer, and try to hang it up right away (which isn’t usually executed as speedily as I would like, but whatcha gonna do?).

So, I apologize to anyone who may have been offended by my last post. That doesn’t mean that I won’t write a post on the global consequences of shopping one day, as I probably will. But, it does mean that although I don’t tend to get tripped up in this area, there are certainly others where I have more difficulty with.

Now, off to swiffer my hardwood floors! Once a month is about right, right?

What tends to clutter your home that you don’t purchase, but simply acquire through life’s activities?


I Don’t Like Shopping

I don’t like shopping. There, I’ve said it. I have many friends, and clients, who enjoy a little (or a lot of) retail therapy here and there, but I just can’t quite seem to wrap my head around it. I can still distinctly remember my last impulse buy, 3 years ago. We had family staying with us, and they had given us some money to contribute toward their share of the groceries. Money doesn’t tend to burn a hole in my pocket, by any means, but as I went out shopping that day, I saw it: Guitar Hero: Aerosmith Edition, on sale for nearly the same amount as I had been given. It was screaming at me, “DEAL! DEAL!” and so I bought it. When I got back, I told my husband, and he nearly fell over. He was just saying to the others that of the 3 of us who went out, I would be the least likely to buy anything (and it’s true!). So, did I use the game? A bit. But it’s collecting dust now… And I was completely disappointed in myself.

I asked him if we should return it. He asked me if I thought I would use it, and enjoy it, and I insisted that I would, so he encouraged me to keep it. But I still felt bad. You see, we are currently debt free (YAY!). When we got married we had some debt, and we wanted to get out from under it. You’ve heard me mention Dave Ramsey before, and we used his methods to snowball ourselves out of the comparatively small mess we were in. This purchase set us back a bit, but I realized then that I really don’t enjoy shopping.

Clothing? Nope. I have a “shapely” figure, so it makes it difficult for me to find jeans that will fit my hips. Toys/Games? Not really. I get bored easily, and I hate to spend money on something that I just won’t use long term. Makeup? I don’t wear any, except for maybe twice a year. Food? Well, that one I don’t mind as much, but I find myself getting frustrated at the quickly inflating prices. Jewelry? Again, I rarely wear it. Gifts? Oh! Don’t even get me started! This last Christmas I found myself calling my Mom in a panic, not knowing what to buy anyone (and only wanting to purchase useful items, instead of dust collectors).

You see, the only time I even enter a mall is when I have a specific purchase in mind. I make a beeline for the store that will likely have what I’m looking for, walk straight to my desired purchase, cash out, and leave. I can physically feel myself getting anxious as I walk in. Perhaps it’s the number of people (although I’m pretty outgoing). Perhaps it’s the frustration of seeing so many families inside on a beautiful day. But I think, largely, it’s the fact that people spend money simply to waste time (double waste, really). I was about to go on a tangent about ethical shopping practices, and how our consumerist society is spurring on poverty in other countries, but I’ll leave that for another day.

Today, I will say this: I don’t like shopping, and I’m okay with that. Generally, it means that I have more cash in the bank, and I spend my time doing other things that I enjoy, and that will give me longer lasting rewards (reading, gardening, spending time with the hubby, saving for retirement).

Do you like shopping? What do you like shopping for?

P.S. Anyone in Toronto looking to purchase a slightly used Wii Guitar Hero Game? 😉


School’s Out! (A Guest Blog Post)

I have been following fellow blogger Jen at Pursuing “Enough” for a few months now. She writes candidly about her battle with stuff, and all the fun things that contribute to it, like her kids. After a few comments back and forth on a post I wrote back in February (Can’t Touch This), I asked Jen to share her experience of putting that advice into practice. So, here we go:

I am learning that just because I am on a quest to simplify our family’s life, it doesn’t mean that anyone else is going to go along with it easily.  My son, especially, has such a tenderhearted, sentimental nature; it’s extremely hard—seemingly almost painful—for him to get rid of things.  When he was three, it was precious and charming:  “Mommy!  We can’t get rid of that book!  It has baby remembers all over it!”  Once he hit eight, it became a bit more ridiculous:  “But Mom!  My sister gave me those shoes for my birthday when I was five!  And I’ll never be five again!”

So once I discovered the “Sort It” site, I began a search:  how do I deal with a kiddo who is so overwhelmingly attached to “stuff”?  When I found a post titled “Can’t Touch This,” about encouraging those around you to get rid of their clutter, I knew I was on the right track; and I asked Liz for some specific advice about dealing with my overly-sentimental son.

Her words couldn’t have come at a better time.  The last day of school hit, and a year’s worth of “stuff” that had been stuffed into both my kids’ desks got shipped home to my kitchen counter.  I knew if we didn’t act quickly, it might live there for weeks.  So we got to work, and I got a chance to put her suggestions into practice.

One idea that went much better than I anticipated applied to one of his art projects.  She had commented that “if it is a large object, or something he seems particularly attached to, but needs to part with it for whatever reason (health, space, etc.), then take a picture of him with it. That way he can create a scrapbook of keepsakes without all the clutter.”  At the time, I’d laughed about the “health” reason, but I suddenly realized, looking at this “rain cloud” project, that we couldn’t very well hang it up in his room without aggravating his asthma at some point.  Our conversation about it was brief:

“What do you want to do with your cloud?”

“Keep it.”

“Um….where are you planning on keeping it?”  (The thing was huge.)

“Ummmm…..”

“How about if we take a picture of you with it, and you can keep that?”

“Okay.”

Seriously?  Okay?  That’s it?  All right then, we’re on a roll….let’s keep it up.

I pulled out the blatant trash from his school box:  even he couldn’t argue that dried up, empty glue sticks were worth keeping.  He agreed to trash the junk, and we quickly got markers and crayons (and salvageable glue) back among all our art supplies here at home.

Another excellent suggestion, one I don’t always think about, is to have him not touch any of it.  “Hold it up for him to see and have him make the decision that way. People are more likely to let something go if they don’t touch it first.”  I strongly suspect that me holding up a nearly six-inch-thick stack of workbooks, notebooks, and folders made a huge difference in his response (“You can recycle it.”).  If he had held those objects in his hands, he would have flipped through each of those items individually, and I know without a doubt there would have been much discussion about their fate.

The pile disappeared before our eyes.  He did keep his giant name poster, choosing to hang it on a wall in his room.  The stash of notebooks, workbooks, and the rain cloud all hit the recycling bin.  Art supplies were put away where they belonged (okay, no, I didn’t check to see if all the markers worked—I’m sure we’ll figure that out over the next few weeks).  We kept two other art projects on display in the kitchen; we’ll make decisions about those after we enjoy them for a while.  My kitchen counter reappeared that same afternoon.  Painlessly.  I didn’t even have to utilize Liz’s first suggestion, to let him have one box to keep things in; he actually let things go on his own, without complaint.

(I wonder if he’d let me give those shoes away now?)


It’s Planner Time!

I’m just over the 6 month mark of using my first Quo Vadis planner, and I thought I would give you all an update from my earlier post Keeping The Calendar.

I have always been a planner-aholic. All throughout junior and high school, as well as university, I would be the first one with my planner out, making sure all of my life events were scheduled out. First, let me confess that I used two other planners last year. My first was a small, very thin, planner that cost quite close to $1. If you’ve been an avid reader of mine, than you’ll know that this is not uncommon for me, as I tend to be on the thrifty side. I used this planner (which I got for Christmas 2010) for about 7 months, but I really wasn’t fully satisfied with it. The style had 3 days on the left page, 2 days (plus a small weekend section) on the right. Also, the times slots that it gave were sparse, at best (7 & 10 a.m., 1, 4 & 7 p.m.). I guess those “in between” hours didn’t really matter to them. But, I made due, thinking that all planners are created equal. Then, I moved up a step. Someone gave me their daily Brownline planner, because they didn’t like the style (that should have been a flag, no?). I wasn’t a huge fan either, as each day had its own page, and it was very bulky and heavy. Although, I could include a lot of detail, which was nice. I will admit that I am probably busier than most, but I was never busy enough to have to put in 10 back to back appointments. I used that planner until November 30th.

Why November 30th, you ask? Well, let me tell you. I attended a Professional Organizers in Canada conference at the beginning of November, last year. We had about 5 different sessions, and they were all, for the most part, fabulous. I was incredibly fortunate to also take part in a LinkedIn session, conducted by Margarita Ibbott. Much to my excitement (perhaps over excitement to some), there awaiting me, like a beacon in the night, was a green, medium sized, Minister 2012 Quo Vadis planner. (Actually, I think that it may have been black, and a size up, but I stealthily swapped for one in my company colour 😀 ). Did my eyes deceive me? An actual, quality planner? Just for me? Sweet!

This particular model, so to speak, is fantastic and perfect for me for three reasons:

  1. It has a whole week on 2 pages. When I get into a daily situation, I lose sight of the big picture, plus it would probably triple the thickness of it. Remember: Less is more.
  2. It has a notes section – for each week! Five medium sized boxes to jot down to-dos, or in my situation, driving instructions (no, I don’t have a GPS – I have a love affair with Google Maps, because I’m a visual person). Looking back, there has only been one week when I haven’t used that handy section.
  3. It fits in my purse. Granted I’m not carrying around a clutch, but it is a great size to fit into any medium sized purse.
  4. BONUS: It’s green! Did I mention that I love green? And next year, I only have to order the refill. I don’t have to purchase a new exterior 🙂 Less waste is always a good thing.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m a busy gal. To recap from my previous post, I have a colour coded system that I use to keep myself straight:

Blue ~ Toronto Willowdale Aquarium Society (Blue = water 🙂 )

Brown ~ Tutoring

Orange ~ Brownies (Their uniform colour is now orange, not brown)

Green ~ Sort It appointments  (My business colour)

Pink ~ Personal

Purple ~ Church events

To do this, I utilize my Pilot Frixion Pens, which are erasable. Yes folks, erasable colour pens. And not like the ones we had back in high school, that would only take a layer off, but you could still read it. No, these erase fully, which is incredibly useful when a client cancels or changes the time to get together. I have too much going on in my mind to occupy it with trying to remember dates and times. I also hate double booking myself, as I try to be a woman of my word.

So, in short, would I recommend a Quo Vadis planner? Absolutely. It’s cute, and it’s easy to maintain. I will certainly be purchasing a refill for next year, if I don’t happen to “come across” one in the meantime 😉

What quality do you look for most in a planner/agenda?


Soap Sliver Solution

Happy Friday everyone! For a change of pace, I thought that I would share with you one of my favourite tips of all time.

I would first like to thank my beautiful Mom (Happy Belated Mother’s Day/Early Birthday), who has been using this technique since I was little, and I’ve always thought it was a great idea. The dilemma: What do you do with all those little soap slivers you accumulate as you near the end of the bar? It feels like such a waste to throw them out. In an episode of The Simpsons, when money was rather tight, everyone was asked to tighten their bootstraps. Little Lisa decided to gather these random soap slivers and smoosh them all together into a soap ball. Well, this is a variation on that technique.

Take an old plastic container (I use an old yogurt container) and the plastic netting used to hold onions together (you may want 2, but that’s up to you). Then, you place the plastic netting in the plastic container, like you would put a garbage liner in a bin. Place all your old slivers into the netting. When you have enough, simply tie a knot in the netting, and you have an automatic loofah of sudsy soap bits 🙂 I use the second netting to hold my next batch while I use up the current one.

P.S. It lather beautifully 🙂 Just make sure that you have a soap saver (the plastic disc that creates a space between your dish and you soap), or else the soap will be very soft.

Do you have a way to use up old bits and pieces around the house?