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?


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.


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?


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

GirlGuidesCANBlog

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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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?


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!


Sleep Easy

Do you have trouble sleeping? Sometimes our minds are running a mile a minute, and so we have difficulty quieting those little voices in our heads. Other times, our bodies simply aren’t prepared to sleep. Here are a few tips to get a quicker, more restful sleep.

1. Prepare Yourself for Sleep – I read an article a while back (I’m sorry, I don’t recall where), but it said that your body will prepare itself for sleep. Many of us have habits before we go to bed. Typically, you’ll brush your teeth, wash your face, etc. I, personally, drink a glass of water so that it cleanses my system as I sleep. I have had the same bedtime routine (more or less) for the last 15 years. That being said, I don’t have trouble sleeping. As you practice the same routine, your body gets used to it, and it will prepare itself for sleep. Those habits will trigger your body to get into a “sleep mode”. Trust me, it works 🙂

2. Turn Off the TV – Okay, this is not directed at anyone. I know many people have TV’s in their bedroom, and that is a personal choice. However, if you think you need the TV to fall asleep, studies show that it will actually keep you up longer. TV, as mind numbing as some of the television programs are, is actually stimulating. If you need background noise to fall asleep, try a sound machine. They usually come with a variety of background noises like white noise, the ocean, or wind. Also, a radio set to a classic station will provide the same effect.

3. Tidy Up – You had to know that there was an organizing plug in here somewhere, right? The more clutter you have in your bedroom, the more difficult it will be to fall asleep. Your bedroom is meant to be a sanctuary, however it can often take on many other roles – folding station, toy depot, laundry basket, to name a few. However, the more “chaos” you have in your room, the more anxiety you will feel. If you tidy up before you go to bed, you will feel less anxious, and sleep will come more easily to you.

4. Write It Down – Does your mind race at night? Do you feel like you’re mulling over the same thoughts over and over again. Don’t! Write it down. Get it out of your mind and on paper. Let your brain rest. I have been reading a fantastic book on productivity by David Allen called Ready For Anything. The one thing that keeps coming up is to write things down. As long as you’re keeping everything in your noggin, you’re preventing new ideas, and solutions, from being thought through. So, write it down. You may find the solution to your problem. At the very least, you’ll be able to approach your dilemmas with a fresh mind in the morning.

It may take some time for your body to get used to your habits, but I strongly encourage you to give it a try. What have you got to lose?

How do you prepare for sleep? Do you have a specific trick for falling asleep?

My hubby on our honeymoon. He was incredibly excited when he saw the two double beds pushed together. The prospect of not having to share the bed with me (essentially) was fantastic!