Sort It ~ Professional Organizing for the Toronto Area

My 3rd guest blog post for the Girl Guides of Canada. What have your experiences been when camping with kids?


As we are preparing for our annual spring camp, I can’t help but think back to the first time I went to Brownie Camp as a leader. I was a Junior Leader in our Unit for two years before I became a full-fledged leader. When the two main leaders left for university before the start of the year, and then the third leader moved for work a month in, I found myself and my best friend looking at each other saying “We can do this!” And we did, but it was a learning experience to say the least.

Now, this post is meant to be about organizing or cleaning, and I will get to that, but I just wanted to share a couple of “learned tips & tricks” for Brownie level camping:

1. Always bring an extra (or two, or three) pair(s) of mittens and hats. Inevitably, one girl will…

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Get Organized to Change Your Life

A guest blog post for a fellow blogger 🙂 How does being organized change your life?

My House, Myself – Readytochangenow

I am very excited to feature our first guest blog post! Readytochangenow has been blogging for about 163 days, and I’ve really enjoyed her candid take on getting fit, getting out of debt, and chasing your dreams (hers is to climb Manchu Picchu). She has honestly, and openly, tackled the psychological, as well as the physical, aspect of taking back your life. If you haven’t already, please take a gander at her blog, Stopping The Wind.

My house, myself 

I want to thank Sort It Canada for inviting me to write a guest post – I have always enjoyed her blog and her amazing tips to clear the clutter of our lives.

When I was nine I moved from a standard, yet immaculate, upper middle-class home to a dilapidated house on the bad side of town that always seemed to smell of cooked meat.

I did not react well to the transition.

My new step-father was a hoarder and for the next 4 years we struggled against the tide of chaos.

Now 44, I have a very demanding job and am trying to radically change my life; the end result is a struggle against clutter – both in my mind and in my home.

I have three tools that work best for me when attempting to climb out of the wreckage.

Take Stock

Yes, I am one of those people – I make lists. When I have 40 things to do I tend to keep them in my head – they float around and knock into each other.

By writing them down, nice and orderly, I have room in my head to breathe.

The satisfaction of crossing an item off the list is my motivator –sometimes, that is all I need to find my momentum.

Start Small  

I have this mental image of sitting in a room stacked high with issues I need to deal with; work deadlines, phone calls, cleaning, maintenance, pets to brush, husband to love, plants to water.

I sit there like a brainwash victim trying to figure out how to fix it all.  It is the sitting that is the problem.

Do one thing, do it very well, and then move on.  Rather than deciding to clean the house, I clean a room. Once clean, nothing goes back into it but items that belong there.

This gives me a refuge from the chaos and evidence of my success.

Play Tennis 

We manage an incredible amount in our lives; information, people, responsibilities.  It is like standing in front of a tennis ball shooter while frantically trying to hit the balls while they fall to the court.

If I stop to pick them up, more will fall and I will never get ahead.  My strategy is to focus on the incoming balls first.  Once I find my rhythm, I can start to reach down and pick up a ball and knock it over.

This works only if I don’t try to track the ball once I hit it over the net.

One Life

I see no difference between my internal and external life.  Chaos inside equals chaos outside for me.

The advantage of this is that in order to clear my mind, I only need to first clear my house. I am committed to clearing out the clutter from both.

 Do you see the correlation between a clear mind and a calm house? How do you manage while “playing tennis”?

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

The other day, I was packing up a couple for an upcoming move. What got me was that I was packing liquor bottles with only a little bit left in them. Now, this isn’t the first time this has happened. Nearly every home I pack has nearly finished something or others lying around. Even when my husband and I toured the home we now live in, we were astounded by the amount of liquor on display (to be fair, they had a bar in the basement, which led to many, many gifts of alcohol). It seems like a waste of effort to move nearly empty bottles, so I got to thinking, how could one remedy this situation?

And then it hit me – have a party! Now, I’m not saying that you should have a throw back to your college days, with people lying all over the house in the morning, but try to use up what you have.

So, here are my rules for a Potluck Pantry Party:

1. You can only bring an item that you have made out of items you already have (excluding items you need to buy fresh like fruit or vegetables) . Don’t forget to check the chest freezer!  This is also helpful to use up items in the basement before they pass their best before date.

2. You can only drink items you already have (not only alcohol, this includes pop and frozen cans of concentrate, too). Get creative with your mixed drinks, and try to only make items using bottles that are only 1/4 full. Imagine all the money you’ll get when you return those empties 😛

3. Light candles. We all have tons of them, but we never use them. Honestly, how many tea light candles can one house need?

4. Get creative and have fun! *Please be responsible. Don’t drink and drive.*

5. Send home the leftovers in your mismatched tupperware. If you have oddball items that you aren’t particularly attached to, make sure everyone leaves with one filled with lunch for Monday. Four birds with one stone.


Would you consider hosting a Potluck Pantry Party? What types of things could you create from the depths of your pantry?

Previous Post

I won! Please take a look at this Decluttering Diva’s blog 🙂

100 things 100 days

Total raised for your charities: $167

Call me cynical, but when someone does a giveaway online, I always wonder about the process. Did they close their eyes and point to a winner on the screen? Did they enter they enter their favourite reader 25 times? Did they just choose their best friend?

Here at 100 things, 100 days, we’re on the up and up. To prove it, I enlisted the help of my youngest (five-year olds are all about fair) to write down the names of everyone who entered, fold them in half, and draw one out of a bowl.

I taped the entire thing on my iPhone – upside down. Yep, upside down.

Then, my five-year old requested a re-take because he wasn’t happy with his pronunciation of the word congratulations.

And on play back, I realized that I sound exactly like Ma Ingalls on Little House On The…

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My Run and My Mat

Today is a day that I announce a couple of accomplishments.

1. I jogged 5 km continously for the first time in my life.

2. I completed my milk bag mat for Africa.

This is me after I completed my first 5K.

I live in Toronto, so when the weather became incredibly beautiful for about a week in March, I decided to start running (or jogging, really). I started off with 2 km, and decided to work my way up from there. My first day, I ran in intervals, telling myself to simply make it to the end of the street. The second time I went out, I wanted to run a little bit farther, so I was trying to make it to the fire hydrant about 20 meters beyond my first stopping (walking) point. However, as I neared the fire hydrant, I was amazed that I didn’t feel winded yet (which is usually what slows me down). So, I put up a farther milestone, but I passed that, too. I ran the whole way on my second run! Well, that did it for me. I was hooked.

I was trying to run 3 times a week, while increasing each week by about .5 km. Then I received an email update from WordPress telling me about the Worldwide WordPress 5K. I knew that I would have to step up my game if I was going to make 5 km in about a month and a half, so I increased it by 1 km two weeks in a row. I am really excited, and I hope to do another 5 km “run” in a couple of weeks to help support our local pregnancy care centre.

I also adore which is what I use to gauge my distance. I also “treated” myself by running through a ravine near our home. First time for everything!

Let me just say this: If I can do it, then anyone can 🙂 I also love this quote: “Someone who is busier than  you, is running right now” – Nike

Secondly, I completed my crocheted milk bag mat! I have been huffing and puffing through this one, so I am super excited to share this achievement with you. I wrote about this a couple of months back, and I just wanted to give you an update. Here is my original post. And here is me with my mat:

It will be sent off to Africa in a short little while. I will hopefully finish the last of my other mat that I have on the go, and then send off the remaining milk bags to Africa, where they now have a program where the people there crochet sleeping mats (bugs won’t nest in these), sandals, and bags to name a few. What a great cause!

What have you achieved this year that you would like to brag about? Please share! I want to know 🙂

My second guest blog post with the Girl Guides of Canada. Please let me know your thoughts!


I’ve been a Brownie leader for nearly 10 years, and for almost every one of those 10 years, I have been “blessed” with many craft supplies. Although I’ve kept many (fewer recently), that doesn’t make me a “hoarder” – a term that has become rather mainstream lately. With TV shows like “Hoarders” and “Hoarding: Buried Alive”, people will often describe their home (or, more often than not, a friend’s or family member’s), trying to determine if they fall into this category.

I strongly believe that my grandmother was a hoarder (she was never diagnosed), and although my family saw some of the warning signs, we didn’t realize the magnitude of the situation until she had to move to a retirement facility. It was then that we realized that she likely hadn’t slept in her own bed for a couple of years. It was very difficult to come to this realization…

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Let’s Get Digital

Paper. We all have it, but some of us have NO CLUE as to what to do with it! Here are a few tips to bring that mountain back down to a realistic, working, active pile.



1. Open your mail. I know that this might sound crazy, but it’s the first step. Also, open it right over the recycling bin. Why? Because inside most envelopes are flyers, pamphlets or brochures trying to sell you something you’ll never need. Open those envelopes and keep the one paper that you actually need.

2. Do something with the paper. Do you pay all your bills at one sitting, or as they come in? If you wait to pay them, have an area where you place paperwork that requires action. For us, we use the top of our filing cabinet. When we pay something off or update required information, then we file it. Right away. A lot of people hate filing, but it’s remarkable how quickly it can be completed if you have the right system in place, and if you are consistent with doing it regularly. With well labeled files, you know exactly where that paper belongs – quick and easy.

3. Cull your paper. Some documents you need for up to 7 years (for tax purposes), some longer (Will, Insurance, etc.) and some less (we only keep one year’s worth of bills, unless we’re claiming it on our taxes). Once your tax year is complete, put all the paper work for that year in a large envelope labeled with the year. Then, when the 7 years pass, shred it. Simple as that. If you’re only keeping one year’s worth of paperwork for a specific file, then as you put the most recent paperwork in the front, remove the last one (which should be a year old now), and shred it. One in, one out.

4. If you can manage it, go paperless. For my husband’s cell phone, we were charged $2 per paper bill – we quickly eliminated that. It will also  help with your paper dilemma. Create a good filing system on your computer and you can store all those bills electronically. No fuss, and no muss. Just remember to open those emails, and back up your computer regularly. I do like the idea of automated payments (especially for those that have difficulty keeping on top of things), but please review your bills – especially credit card bills. You never know when you might be charged erroneously, or spend more than you had intended.

How do you manage paperwork? How often do you file your papers? Have you gone electronic? Why or why not?

Use It or Lose It

This topic may seem similar, as I posted on something along these lines last year (You’ve Got It, So Use It), but who doesn’t like a little reminder now and then?

First, let me confess. I have a “collection” of those little floss containers you get from the dentist at your check ups. And by “collection” I mean 10. Seriously. Here’s the evidence:

It’s not that I don’t floss, I just don’t do it as often as I should. I’ve tried to remedy this by flossing on days with a “U” in them (Tuesday, Thursday and either Saturday or Sunday), so that if I don’t do it everyday, at least I’m flossing every week. Why? Because my husband told me that the plaque that’s on your teeth, and in your gums, can travel through your blood system, and build up in there. YIKES! That was enough to get me flossing more regularly…

Anyway, my point it this: I need to use this up before I purchase any more. And, if I’m not going to use it, then I can’t have it cluttering up my space. If you’ve ever seen our bathroom, you’d understand. But it’s not the size that matters, but the fact that anytime you want to get around it, you have to shuffle it around. And for what? If you’ll never use it, so why not let someone else be “blessed” by it?

Lastly, if you have so much of it that even if you used “it” at every opportunity, you still wouldn’t make a solid dent in it, perhaps you should split “it” and pass some of it on. Don’t let it bog you down just because you think you’ll use it “someday”.

What do you have an overload of? Will you ever use it? Please excuse me while I get to flossing 😀

P.S. While I haven’t completely depleted my body wash (please refer to above mentioned post), I’m getting near the end. Imagine that… But I haven’t bought anymore all this time! Saving space AND money!

What Is A Professional Organizer?!?

Yes, there is such a thing as a Professional Organizer. No, we don’t work exclusively with hoarders.

There, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, what is a Professional Organizer? I probably should have written this one a year ago, but a meeting with a fantastic real estate agent (Albert Yu in the Toronto area, give him a shout) made me realize that I need to incorporate this somehow, and at least it’s better late then never.

A Professional Organizer is someone who has a knack for putting things into an appropriate place, and making it easier to find when needed. We set up systems in your home or office place to make your life easier. Sometimes this requires paring down, in order to make more space. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of rejigging the area you have in order to make it flow better. There are many different types of Professional Organizers as well: Residential organizers, small office organizers, corporate organizers, photo organizers, senior move organizers, garage organizers, and those who specialize in chronic disorganization and ADHD, to name a few. Many organizers cater to a mix of clients and specialties.

You may need an organizer. There, I said it. Sometimes, I need one, too! Here are some of the types of people I work with:

Busy Bee ~ Incredibly busy and high energy. Their commitments keep them going, but also hold them back from taking time to maintain the home. (I’ll admit, sometimes I fall into this category.) An organizer would come in and help set up systems to make maintenance as simple and stress free as possible. Also, setting aside a specific appointment to get organized will ensure it gets done.

Overwhelmed ~ Having various priorities has made making decisions too difficult – until now. Sometimes you’ve got too much on your plate (a sick parent, a troubled teen, etc.), which makes keeping up the home too much of a chore. However, those issues will pass, and when the smoke clears, you’ll look around to find a home with a lot of stuff. An organizer can help you to make those decisions you once found quite tough. A sensitive ear can work wonders when trying to decide what’s important, and what isn’t – which changes with time, too. It’s time to take back your home, and your life.

Relocation ~ You’re moving! But the last thing you want to do is take all that extra stuff with you. Don’t pay the movers for their time if you’re simply going to toss it on the back end. As you pack, go through your items and donate (or toss) that which you no longer want or need. Some organizers help with the packing and unpacking process as well, which can be a huge stress reliever.

Hoarder ~ There are many different types of hoarders. Essentially, it’s the inability (or severe difficulty) with letting go of object with little or no value, and extensive acquiring of such items. If a room is no longer able to be used for its intended purpose (can’t sleep on the bed, can’t cook in the kitchen, etc.), this is a pretty good indication. Organizers, in conjunction with mental health professionals, are able to help go through the items, although this is a longer process than the above situations.

Please note that I am not writing this as a promo piece. Whenever I meet new people, and tell them my profession, they always ask, “and what do you do?” So, I hope that this helps to shed some light on this new (not actually that new, maybe about 20 years or so) up and coming field.

Have you had any experience with a Professional Organizer? Have you seen any on TV or in the media?

Want to learn more? Check out the Professional Organizers in Canada, the National Association of Professional Organizers or the Institute for Challenging Disorganization.