Sort It ~ Professional Organizing for the Toronto Area


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?


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.


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!


But It May Come In Handy One Day!

We all have some “just in case” items. Toilet paper, canned goods, bottled water – things that we keep around the house because we anticipate needing them in the somewhat near future. Some are legitimate, like food and household staples, but others are long shot items that will likely never be needed.

I have found that as we start considering donating or tossing an item, we are more likely to part with it the next time we come across it. For example, if you have a large collection of books, and you think to yourself, “I don’t read most of these books anymore, nor will I go back to them in the future, but I’m just not ready to get rid of them yet”, the next time you go through your books, it will be easier for you to let go of them, because you haven’t used them between the initial thought of letting them go, and the second decluttering experience. Your justification for keeping them will no longer be supported (“but it might come in handy”). So, start asking yourself what do I rarely use, and no longer get joy out of owning? My husband challenges me on things, and I challenge him. As I think about it, I tend to realize that I don’t wear that top anymore, or I haven’t played that game in forever, nor do I plan on it. Sometimes it just takes another’s prodding to get you moving in the right direction.

The more stuff you have, the more energy it takes to maintain it. Also, the longer you hold onto an item, debating with yourself whether you’ll ever use it, or be able to, the less useful it will be to someone else. I have seen many items that were once in great condition deteriorate over time just by sitting around. The adhesive in books will break down. The elastic in clothes will dry out. Canned food will expire. Items that once could have been helpful to someone else, now have to be thrown out. Sometimes it is simply time that will be the difference between these two options:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, if you’ve considered tossing (or donating) an item for some time, perhaps it’s time to bite the bullet. If you haven’t used it in the last year, and you don’t get joy out of it, don’t let it take up your space and energy. Wouldn’t you much rather have items that bring a smile to your face when you look around your home?

What have you been debating about parting with? Will you take the plunge?


Clutter Free Christmas

This year, the youth group at our church is putting on the Charlie Brown Christmas play. 

In this classic, Charlie Brown goes around lamenting that Christmas has become “too commercial”. Lucy comments that it is being run by “a big eastern syndicate” – can you tell we’ve gone through these lines quite a few times? In the end, Linus points out the true meaning of Christmas – the birth of Jesus. I’m not trying to be all “religious”, however, I think  you’d agree that we, as a society, have certainly strayed from those classic traditions – spending time with family, enjoying a nice meal together, and being thankful for what we have.

Christmas has become a time of rushing around, long lists of “wants” and “to do’s”, buying the “I LOVE IT” presents (thank you Best Buy), and generally feeling stressed out. Then we have the aftermath – the mounds of once used wrapping paper, the gifts that were well intentioned but will sit around until they can be (safely) regifted or donated, and the swift realization that we “went a little overboard” this year, having to really cut back in January to make it balance out.

Now, I’m not trying to be a Scrooge. I love Christmas. It just so happens that Christmas is my husband’s birthday (and the day we got engaged), we celebrate the birth of Jesus, and all that that means, and I love the time we get to spend together as a family, snuggled up with tea, playing a board game together (Jeanette, if you’re reading this, please bring Ticket to Ride again – I love that game!). What I am saying is this: we typically don’t need the stuff we receive for Christmas (most of it, at least), but there are many others out there who go without. We often believe that we’re thinking of others at Christmas, and this is true, however, let’s think of those less fortunate. Here are a few gift ideas that won’t clutter up your home (nor someone else’s), but will certainly be a blessing to those in need:

1. Toy Mountain – there are many different organizations who have a means to hand out new toys to those less fortunate at Christmas. Take your child shopping, and have them pick out a great toy that another child will receive – perhaps you could volunteer to help hand those toys out. (Toy Mountain)

2. Gift of Compassion/Gifts of Hope – Compassion Canada and The Salvation Army are just 2 organizations that offer opportunities to purchase animals, clean water, mosquito nets, or education for those in developing countries. A couple of years ago, I did this for 3 of my closest friends. For Christina (who’s a teacher), we bought school books, for Sharon (who collects water bottles from all over the world), we bought clean water, and for Diana (who was in med school at the time), we bought a pig (emphasizing the need of good nutrition for health). My friends were really impressed by the thoughtfulness of those gifts, and they felt good that they had helped, too. We also gave them each little token gifts to remember the donation made in their honour. (Gifts of Compassion/Gifts of Hope)

3. Microfinancing – Personally, I feel that this is the best use of donated money for developing countries. Nationwares (there are other organizations who do this as well) is an organization that provides small, low-interest, business loans to individuals and small groups in developing countries. This allows the entrepreneurs to start up a business, and essentially become self-sustaining. They sell their products and pay back the loan, which is then put back into the system to aid another entrepreneur. These people may also hire others from their village, and the benefits are magnified. My father-in-law always said “A hand up, not a hand out”. (Nationwares)

So, this Christmas, consider cutting out the clutter, and helping others at the same time. Turn the focus around, and avoid getting caught up in all that commercialism. I promise you, your spirit will feel lighter.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!


To Keep, Sell, Toss or Donate? That is the Question

When we’re going through the rooms of our home, we encounter items that we need to make decisions about. Should we keep the lego? Should we sell our old bread maker? Do we really need 4 aquariums? Okay, that last one may be more pointed to my household, but I’m sure you ask yourself these types of questions fairly regularly. However, I think that the “should I keep it, or let it go” question is sometimes easier than deciding where it should go to.

I suppose the motivation for this post is based on the pile – nay, mound – of stuff behind me intended for our church garage sale. My husband is a minimalist. He loves to rid our home of items he thinks are cluttering our space. And generally, I tend to agree. But, how do you decide where things should go?

Toss: Throw out anything that is moldy, or no longer meets safety standards. Toss broken items that cannot be used for spare parts. Toss items that have been heavily used, and have had a good run, but are no longer useful. *Please note that when I say “toss” this does include recycling, and disposing of items (i.e. electronics or hazardous waste) in an appropriate manner according to your local waste regulations.

Sell: This is a completely personal choice. Some people enjoy taking time to sell their items, and making some money while they’re at it, while others simply want the sorted stuff out of their home. If you are up for the challenge, hold a garage sale or, for those who are more tech savvy, sell it online. We’ve sold quite a few things on eBay and Kijiji. You can also head over to your local consignment shop (e.g. Once Upon A Child) for a more hassle free experience. Our church is holding a garage sale this month where you can rent a table for $10. That’s a small investment for a potentially large profit. Just remember: the better the stuff you have to sell, the more money you will potentially make.

Donate: There are many organizations out there who are more than happy to accept your gently used items. We frequently donate to the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army will accept all clothing, as they will sell stained, ripped fabrics en mass to a fabric recycling plant. Oh! And you know all those pop tabs you have lying around the house that your children said would make a wheelchair? Well, take those over to the March Of Dimes (they sell the tabs as scrap metal and use the money to purchase wheelchairs). Where do you take your donate-ables?

Most of us have a lot of stuff in our homes, and some of it is just collecting dust. Don’t waste your space with stuff you don’t use. Allow other people to be blessed with it!