Miami Neat Blog

Didn’t you just do some spring cleaning?

Now you are allowed to dream, contemplate, search for serenity and breathe. Take a vacation or a staycation and just be. What do you want to do for enjoyment? Fish, bike, swim, dive, garden, BBQ, sail, hike, golf, read, take an art class, drive across the USA, be a tourist in your own town or just chill.

For many school is out, business schedules aren’t as hectic and it is ok to visit that summer feeling of sun and fun or cool and relaxed!  You have earned it and when the beginning of August arrives and it’s back to school and the structured rat race is near,  then you can revisit the organizing plan again.

It will be time to reassess clothes, kitchens, patios, garages and any piles that may have accumulated in cars from the carefree summer days just to name a few! You will be ready after recharging and punching out for awhile. Studies have shown that people who take a break and take a vacation are happier in life and perform better throughout the year.

When you step away from the hustle you are able to experience another perspective on what is really important and why you are driven to do what you do all year.

Face it you have already gone through half the year and you want to be in gear for the fall season, the new school year, new work contracts, new clients, associations, teams and whatever else will lead you into the end of 2017. Before you know it the Holidays will be upon us!

Ask yourself is my schedule controlling me or am I controlling my schedule?? Where did the first half of this year go? Now go ahead and take time to be off the grid today and in the coming weeks. Lets make a plan to catch up and do some organizing and streamlining towards the end of this summer.

Organizing for your health

How many people give their brain a break?

Your brain is an organ and a muscle that sucks up a huge amount of energy.

Our brains go through a natural cycle every 90 minutes according to the Organizational Dynamics publication, so pause and think relaxation. Go for a walk, talk to a friend, watch a funny YouTube clip or do 3 yoga poses.

Aren’t making decisions sometimes fatiguing?

What to wear?, What to cook?, Where to eat and How to schedule the week?

  • Simplify to ease the required energy:
  • Pick out outfits in advance instead of looking at individual pieces each day.
  • Aim for good enough and just eat out closer to home.
  • Make a few dishes on Sunday to have during the week.
  • Make some activities into habits like go to the gym Monday, Wednesday and Friday,
  • Pay bills on the 15th of the month and have dinner out on Saturday.
  • Limit options for shopping or travel by checking 2-3 search places that have been successful in the past and move on.

professional organizerAre you guilty of multitasking?

This is also a big challenge for your brain.

  • Focus on ONE activity at a time. If you need things done quickly set up 10-20 minutes for each one. You will get more done and conserve your energy.
  • Don’t scroll through your social feed while your partner tells you about his or her day.
  • Don’t talk on the phone while following a recipe or responding to a work email.

Have an energized and organized day!

Miami Cold Front

A Miami cold front means it’s time for outside organizing and clean living.

The first cold front just came through Miami recently and don’t laugh, it’s exhilarating for me because of the clear, clean feeling! Hearing, smelling, and breathing outside fresh air calms me down and I can sleep and breathe better. There is so much more clarity and vividness with cooler air.

Ready for Outdoor Time

While people in cooler climates are packing up their lawn furniture, closing their pools, and covering their BBQ’s we are ready for outdoor time. Bugs are gone; we need to check and prepare our plants, landscaping, outdoor furniture, fire pits, relaxing areas in our yards, patios, and balconies.

Humidity

I recognize that humidity is good for our skin, joints, muscles and perhaps more, but it really makes the outside seem muddled and a bit foggy. We can’t even crack open our windows for months because of the extreme humidity and heat. We have a need for our air conditioners to be running as efficiently as possible with no air escaping or humidity coming in for us to remain comfortable for months.

I know you may think- stop complaining ! Many people welcome and love this heat constantly. I view this scenario as similar to the winter when much of life is inside for a few months. I remember growing up in the north east during winter with the heat on, the windows closed, and cars heated up before entering and bundling up for months until spring air allows the windows to be opened once again.

Enjoy this time of year

Yes there are summer activities that cool you off and there are amazing winter activities that thrive and thrill with cold air. My message is to just enjoy this time of year, be prepared wherever you are and be present so you can enjoy these seasonal moments .

Breathe deep Miami, get outside, open the windows and clear the air in your homes!

8 Things Professional Organizers Do Every Night Before Bed

Miami Neat was mentioned in this blog post by Readers Digest!

Personal organizers spill their top tricks and favorite nightly habits that help keep them on track.

How organized is your kitchen?

miami-professional-oganizingHow organized is your kitchen? That is a great question for me, because it is my favorite room in a house to organize, reorganize. or unpack. This is probably because my top hobbies are cooking, wellness and nutrition. I also spent many years in the food business, so I have a passion for kitchens and the contents of kitchens.

How many people don’t know how many vegetable peelers or cheese slicers they have?

Rearrange Your Kitchen

No one is going to wake up on a Saturday after working all week and say wow I can’t wait ! Let me see how many duplicates I have in my kitchen? let me scale this back and rearrange all of my kitchen stuff so I know what I have! Don’t laugh I would!

Many times we received gifts over 20 years ago and have never used them or save them thinking one day we will use them. Some examples are the vase, platter, appliance , fondue pot or sterling silver piece from Aunt Bee. I want to let you know it is ok to say goodbye to these items and no guilt is necessary . If you are not using these items there are plenty of people in this world who will.

Reduce Items in your Kitchen

miami-professional-kitchen-organizationI give you permission to reduce the quantity of all things in your kitchen . Believe me you will finally know what you have, where to find it, where to put it away and won’t have to buy another one since you didn’t know where it was.

Tips for starting this project besides calling me, begin with taking everything out and putting like things together. Next step is to evaluate, make decisions and reduce. After that take a look to see where the items can fit together in a place that makes sense. You definitely want to keep items you use daily in a convenient place ie. coffee maker , coffee and mugs near each other and dishes and glasses near the dishwasher. Items used less frequently can be put over the refrigerator or up high or down low in the back of a cabinet.

Yes you can have a junk drawer, but put some sort of divider in there so it won’t get out of control .

My new go to place for spices is inside a draw lying down so visibility is terrific. If there are additional bigger rubs ,spices etc that don’t fit, use the cabinet near your stovetop that has oils, vinegars, sauces, salt and pepper and put them there.

We all have to eat, so why not make it easier, more organized and fun to spend time in our kitchens.

Back to School Time

How can it be ‘back to school” time already? By now you have probably shopped during the tax free time for supplies and have hopefully taken a day or more to decompress and relax during these lazy days of summer. Summer is also when some projects are planned and meant to be completed, but either way time has passed and now it’s crunch time.

It’s a fact that life is fast and everyone is working more and making less and everything is a click away. Getting stuff may not solve problems, but some say it can make you feel better. In reality this is not true, because the more stuff you have makes it harder to be productive in the daily routine of life. Choosing experiences over things could help in reducing the clutter.

Why not take a walk, spend time with friends, read or journal next time you are compelled to hit click.

In the SpareFoot.com (the largest storage marketplace) back to the grind survey, 45% of Americans believe fall months are the best time to get organized. They also reported that in less than two weeks after tidying up for school 55% of Americans feel disorganized again. 80% say it takes about five to ten minutes longer to get ready in the morning once school starts.

The following are some tips for staying organized and on time for the fall schedule:

1. Post a daily routine in a central location for homework, reading and bedtime
2. Set up and make breakfast and lunch the night before whenever possible
3. Label boxes, bins and your time, so that daily to-do lists work
4. Clean as you go
5. Make space for daily items i.e. lunch boxes, shoes and backpacks
6. Consider a parents’ bin or cubby for paperwork, $ for books, info for nurse, sports, music, art or any other required items to be returned to school
7. Go to bed gradually earlier each night of the week before school starts to prepare for the early morning grind
8. Set a timer each day for 15-20 min to keep up with mail and a once over throughout the house to keep clutter under control

I wish you a smooth transition as summer comes to a close.

How is your paper management or are you paperless?

I can’t say I am paperless, but I do try everyday to some degree. I have recently had many clients who are trying to do the same. It has been said that clutter is a result of postponed decisions and I have to agree.

I know some perfectionists get lost after a trauma or something devastating. Since they feel like they can no longer be perfect, their decision is to just to do nothing which is a decision in itself.Image-1

I feel passionate about helping people realize that life isn’t perfect, but having too much paper around is too stressful. I ask my clients if a hurricane comes tomorrow what are you taking with you? What really matters? Why is there such attachment to stuff?

Barbara Hemphill says in her book,Taming The Paper Tiger, that four out of every five pieces of paper saved in the typical file cabinet will never be needed again. You think oh, I may need this or that. I am not sure if we will all be paperless one day or not, but I am trying to decrease my own by paying bills online, not printing what isn’t necessary, banking and shopping with an email receipt only, reading from a kindle and sending less greeting cards. Also, as a rule of thumb, try to recycle after two weeks for a weekly item and recycling after two months for a monthly item. I also try to keep junk mail at a minimum online and snail mail by unsubscribing or dragging to my junk file. You may ask after minimizing paper, how to manage digitally as well?

I say one step at a time. In all areas strive for less in general. Spend a little extra time this summer to stay neat in Miami.

Mind Games

I recently attended a National Association of Professional Organizers conference and the speaker really got in my head when he mentioned “cognitive distortions.”

IMG_1735This means our mind convinces us of something that isn’t really true. These thoughts are usually used to reinforce negative thinking.

How many times do you have self doubt and compare yourself to others without knowing what they are carrying around with them???????

Yes this is brain trash, rubbish and junk! Why do we hold onto emotional clutter?

Clarity is seeing things as they are. Isn’t this what we all want to truly see?

It’s pretty common to go with our feelings instead of facts and this is where the distortion comes into play. The speaker Scott Greenberg made reference to The Giving Tree book. I am sure at some point everyone has read this. IMG_1783

The main premise is to have gratitude or in other words, want what you’ve got.

In order to ignore and clear out the mind trash, we have to focus on something bigger than ourselves. Face your fears and go for the action anyway. This will lead us into making connections. No matter what you do for a living this will put you in a better place. You won’t be worried about yourself. Facts and confidence will replace the rubbish.

This is when you can exist in a peaceful space both inside and out.

Practicing mindfulness or a brief 5 minutes of meditating everyday would be great too.

Are you moving soon?

IMG_1438 Are you realizing you can’t take everything?

How many times have you moved the same item and then never wore it or used it?

I have many clients tell me that ‘this and that” (even expired food) has gone around the country and then we meet and decide together to finally take some action and say goodbye. They always say it wasn’t so hard after all.

It costs about $50 to move a box of stuff that can probably be replaced for less. Why not save money, time and space so you can live free with less. Consider the people who could benefit from having your items that no longer work for you.

I was very impressed with the “Resource Depot” in Palm Beach where our local chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers met this month. This nonprofit donation based creative reuse center diverted 95 tons of unusable materials from the waste stream last year!!!!!!

IMG_1502(Some examples of what this place takes are: parts of notebook binders, shoe boxes, games with missing pieces, nails, screws, folders, erasers, gift wrap, plastics, CD cases, tubes, wood pieces etc)

That is just one of sooooo many places to pass on your items. Check out Lotus House, JAFCO and any other place you may feel passionate about. If are meaningful items you just can’t part with, this is when you box them up and label them memories or memorabilia. We are allowed to be sentimental too.

Take the time now and your stress will be less when you unpack once again.

Contact us today to get started organizing!

Spring is here!

Spring cleaning isn’t just physically cleaning your home, but that’s a great start!

I don’t know if everyone feels this way but, once the season ends and it’s time to put away your heavier clothes, I like to take a look at what didn’t leave the closet much at all. In Florida it certainly isn’t a big change, but there are long pants, sweaters, boots, sweat shirts, slippers etc to put up high or pack up till next fall.

IMG_1394The seemingly universal rule of “80% of what we have we don’t use” can be applied here. Definitely give away the non classic and unused pieces because it’s going to be winter elsewhere and someone can use these clothes.

It’s time to evaluate the condition of clothing as well. You just have to ask yourself some questions. Am I going to wear this the next cold season? Why didn’t I wear it this season? Are these clothes a realistic size for me now? Thin out and let it go.

Next, for the rest of the house walk around and check out things that need attention. ie. duvet covers, pillows, curtains, rugs, outside furniture, bbq, bikes, yard and plants.

You may need Allegra D to breathe through all the pollen blowing around.

Happy Spring and contact us here if you would like to schedule a consultation!

Do you struggle with the passage of time?

I don’t know about you, but time seems to go faster everyday, every month and every year.

When you were a young child, didn’t summer seem to last to forever? Ok maybe it’s true now that I am over 50 and inching toward the other side of the rainbow. It literally feels faster. One good thing about the passage of time is that time heals, especially after experiencing loss or sadness.

Don’t we want to make the best of time and spend it doing what we want and what makes us happiest no matter what age?  Based on obligations, work and general everyday tasks that are required of us, how much time is left?

Time will be different for everyone and when you REALLY pay attention to where you spend your time you will find out the answer to this. Let’s say you go to work, go through your email, read the paper, read a book, take a shower, sleep, do the laundry, cook the dinner, run an errand, pack your lunch, go to the gym, go to the doctor, walk the dog, run into the grocery store, pay your bills, help with the homework, make a decision, answer a call…. how long do these things take?

Fotosearch_k15861435.jpg timeUse your smart phone to help time these daily tasks by putting the timer on or by checking when you begin and finish each task, forcing you to be more realistic.
Now knowing what you know, what do you want to do and what can you eliminate?

Don’t feel badly about planning or scheduling reading time, spa time, nail time, meditation time, nothing at all time, vacation or staycation time, girlfriend or guy friend time because that is truly living time. It’s not existing and just flying through your days time.

I have one request; allow yourself some daily organizing time, maybe only 10 minutes. Whether it’s going through the mail, or thinning out your kitchen junk draw or putting away your clothes. Take note of items not being worn and toss out or donate.

This habit along with your renewed time management will help you keep things in their place and keep you up to date. You can coast a bit now without guilt, you can choose to do nothing or do more of what you want everyday.

Like the Rolling Stones say “time waits for no one”.

Have a neat time today!

Resolve to be “NEAT “ in 2016?

Fotosearch_k20493286It seems like this year many people are making resolutions to not make resolutions! Just keep everything realistic so you don’t expect too much of yourself ….If you are a visual person lists can help. I like to have a master list and prioritize from there, so I can see the big picture and feel a sense of control and comfort. Give it a try-whether it’s on your smart phone, tablet, paper or calendar. Below are some tips on how to have a NEAT day and year.

N: “NO” is a sentence and it’s ok to say NO to things, allowing you some extra time to just be. Say NO to free things like free t shirts, free corporate mugs, say NO to buy one get one free ads and avoid the decor aisle in target and other stores that tempt. “NO” can allow you time to think about little things like owning less is always easier than organizing more!

Fotosearch_k3067100E: Clear your “ENTRY” and your whole house will feel better ! Marie Kondo (author of the book “the life changing magic of tidying up”) says if your ENTRYway is filled with shoes and other things the atmosphere in the house will be suffocating. Her new motto in her follow up book is “spark joy”. “EQUALIZE” – you can’t tackle it all in January- plan for a few months at a time and after January when your energy begins to wane, you know what is next and it is only a small piece of the house… January could be kitchen and pantry looking at expiration dates on spices etc, February could be your home office, March could be clothes and accessories and April could be your bathroom & medicine cabinet.

A: “ASK” yourself why because what you do is huge, but why you do is huger- listen and you may find out something meaningful about why you do all you do and why you keep working, working, working? “ASK” for help or delegate ! No one can read your mind and perhaps a spouse, partner or child can lighten your load by picking up even a tiny task like hanging keys and backpacks on hooks, carrying the stuff on the stairs up and distributing, watering plants, handling pet duties, tossing junk mail, putting away and or folding laundry and packing away some groceries, picking up glasses and dishes and cleaning as needed.
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T: “TAKE TIME” to prioritize each day- decide what is important and say no to things you find unnecessary and save them for a later time. You can even set a timer for better focus for 15-30 minutes. “TAKE TIME” to look at tasks that will take 2 minutes or less and just do it– like making the bed, returning a quick phone call, responding to an email, going through the mail. Keep a bin near or in the kitchen for things that need to be repaired or returned, so they can make it into your car. Keep a reusable bin in a closet and use it to keep items you plan to give away or sell. This will help you with “TIME management”. Now “TAKE TIME” to pause, stay off the internet, calm down with a book and or an adult coloring book!

Tip of the Month!

Appliance garage- streamline counters, but still have easy access to your smoothie maker, food processor or stand up mixer. Additional tip would be to have an outlet right in the back of the appliance garage.