Garage! Take Care of Your Car, Not Your Clutter!

Alternate titles for this week’s article involved fun with spelling:  

“Garbage / Garage”, or  “Take Care of Your Car, Not Your Crap”.  I stuck with the least offensive, please see above.

This warm weather we’re having offers a great opportunity to clear out and Organize Your Garage Before Winter!  We need to take care of our cars instead of our clutter!

Our garages can sometime be a place of wonder.  Not “Wow, how Wonderful”, but,  instead,

  • “I wonder what That is?” or
  • “I wonder what happened to the (fill in the blank here)?” or
  • “Hmm,  I wonder how that got here?” or
  • “I wonder who that belongs to?” or
  • “I wonder how to get rid of that?”

It is time to answer these questions and restore some order in your garage this week!

  • First things first, purge the garbage / recycling / donations.  And pull out the cars while you work!
  • Next, break down boxes.  It’s astonishing how much space is taken up by empty boxes.  I know, it’s tough to decide  do we keep the box the vacuum / lamp / appliance came in or recycle it? However, we’ve discovered that if we do need to pack the item up or return it, we can find another box (more come all the time!) or return the item without it.  If you just can’t part with the boxes, break them down and store them flat.
  • Now, Pick A Spot To Start.  Just one spot.  And just start.
    Work methodically clockwise around the room, so you know where to focus your efforts.  Garages are big spaces, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.  Pick just one spot, and start making decisions about what to purge, what to keep and where to keep it.
  • Corral the yard implements.
    In two recent garage projects, we made lots of progress by simply gathering up the brooms / shovels / rakes / etc., that were leaning against (read BLOCKING) everything!  Vertical storage for such items, like wall hooks or a peg board, would be best, but if you don’t have that, a re-purposed garbage can will work.
  • Consider and store kid / adult toys.
    I took a batch of stuff to Play It Again Sports this summer.  I walked in with a bag of my sons’ outgrown sports items, chose to leave the items there (instead of hassling with selling them on consignment), they cut me a check.  Beautiful!   Try listing outgrown bikes and scooters on Facebook sell pages, there is a market for such things!  And, thinking vertically again – install some hooks on the walls or beams, to get those summer toys and bikes off the garage floor for winter!
  • Recycle!
    E-Waste (old computers, TVs, etc.) and other household items: Keep your eyes open for local E-Waste collections, very popular this time of year!   And try the ultimate recycling tactic – if you have an item that someone else may want (furniture, scrap metal, etc.), put it out early the day before trash day.  That sort of stuff is usually gone by the next morning!
  • Paint and other Hazardous Waste.
    I’ve gotten the “what do I do with old paint / paint cans?” question  a lot lately.  Here is the answer:  If the paint is dried, toss it in the regular trash.  If the paint is even a little wet?  Water based paint will dry out eventually if you pry off the top and leave the cans open to air (be careful of pets and small children).  If you want to speed up the process, or if your paint is oil-based, you can buy packets of paint thickener at a home Improvement store like Home Depot, or add kitty litter to dry up the paint quickly.  Once the paint is hardened, with the thickener or kitty litter, it is safe to toss on the regular trash.  In addition, many communities have Hazardous Waste collections in the Fall and Spring, so keep an eye out for local events to collect paint and other hazardous waste.

Get out there this week, and clear some clutter from one of your hardest working spaces – the garage!

To:

Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
Discover the benefits of Organizational Coaching;

Please contact me.

Call / text 708.790.1940
Online at  http://peaceofmindpo.com
www.Facebook.com/MColleenKlimczakCPO
Via Twitter, @ColleenCPO

Finally, A Blog Post About Plastic Food Containers

How have I never blogged about plastic food containers before?  These handy and prolific little
items, found in every kitchen EVER.

I taught a Kitchen Organizing class a few weeks ago, and we chatted quite a bit about these storage containers.  We love and hate them at the same time! These containers are handy.  Re-usable.  With a million and one uses.  And  they occasionally drive us crazy.

Can you identify with any of these problems?

  • You have way too many containers and lids, they are stashed in every cabinet and drawer, and they occasionally fall out in a heap. And yet…
  • When you need a container, it’s difficult to find matching containers and lids.
  • When you use your containers in the fridge, its difficult to tell the difference between leftovers in a butter tub and actual butter in a butter tub.
  • You worry because you have heard that re-purposing or reheating food in plastic containers can leach chemicals into your foods.
  • Your soup or leftovers have leaked in your lunch bag.

Here’s how to fix these problems:

  • Pull out all the plastic containers in your kitchen and pair up the bottoms and lids.  Recycle or re-purpose the solo ones.  Do this every couple of months.
  • Dedicate one cabinet or one drawer as a home for your containers, and only store them there.
  • Buy clear (or mostly clear) containers, so you can easily identify their contents.
  • Find a brand you like, and stick with it.
  • Choose a few sizes of containers, and stick with just those.  (We have  GladWares small rounds,  round 2-cup containers with screw-on lids, flat squares and a few large ones for our recent homemade ice cream habit!).
  • Buy containers that stack, both while in use and when not in use. Most brands offer snap-together lids.
  • Keep just a pile or two.   If you find that you never get to the second or third pile of containers, then you probably don’t need the second or third pile of containers.
  • Glass storage containers are an option.  Many folks have made the switch.  They
    keep fewer containers overall, but can safely use the glass containers for storage, cooking and reheating.
  • If you have too many containers right now, spread the love. Re-purpose them as drawer dividers, send home leftovers with friends, donate them to a class room for craft time, recycle them
  • Don’t fall into the “it was free, I guess I’ll keep it” trap.  Deli containers, sherbet bowls, butter tubs or cottage cheese containers (and related items) are not made to last.   Recycle them!

Free up some cabinet space and decrease some stress by paring down your container collection!

Clutter and Procrastination: Making Room for Harry Potter

Sometimes there are actual hurdles – physical barriers! – between procrastination and organization.  Let’s seek them out, identify and remove them so we can get things done!

I love the Harry Potter books.  I’ve collected the hardback novels as they were released.  My set has seen the attentions of me and all three 3 sons as they read the series, too.  These books have seen the inside of many school backpacks,   traveled the country, been read and re-read, and are loved to the moon and back.  And they are showing their age (who isn’t?).

So, when a friend mentioned he was downsizing and had the full set in pristine condition, we jumped at the offer, in case one of my sons wanted to have a set to call their own.  Another generous friend recently shared a collection of organizing books with me (which I will share on this blog some day), too.

So, herein lies the problem.  Our bookshelves were full.   And I needed to make room on the shelves for these new additions / editions.

I’ve wanted to tackle the basement book shelves for a month, but just haven’t gotten around to it. But now, a pile of Harry Potter books lived in my office for a few days, then moved downstairs NEAR the bookshelves but still not ON the bookshelves.  Same went for the organizing books – oh, the irony.

I procrastinated about putting them away because there were actual barriers to putting them away.  Sound familiar?  Have you ever said or heard:

  • I can’t put away last year’s taxes because the file drawer is too full, or
  • I can’t put away last year’s taxes because of that pile of old printers stacked in front of the file cabinet.
  • I can’t schedule that appointment because I misplaced my calendar (a week ago), or I haven’t bought one for this year yet.
  • I can’t get rid of that old empty file cabinet before I find the keys (yes you can).
  • I can’t put the groceries away because the cabinets are disorganized, or are too full (I kid you not).
  • I can’t take those checks to the bank until I find a deposit slip (of course you can, the bank has piles of blank deposit slips!).
  • I can’t put stuff away on the book shelves because there are bags on the floor in front of the the bookshelves.
  • I want to organize that closet, but the light bulb burned out.

We’ve all had moments like this, I’m sure.   The good news for me and Harry Potter is that an hour on Saturday morning spent clearing off the bookshelves resulted in plenty of space for the new books, clean and dust-free shelves, the discovery of a few gems, and 3 bags of books in excellent condition donated to my local library yesterday morning.

So, this week, I want you to walk around your space with an eye on your Task List and also on the physical barriers that may be making you procrastinate instead of completing your tasks. Piles here and there, minor home repairs, maybe something as simple as taking out the trash, dropping off donations, or loading up those printers to drop off at your local EWaste recycling site.  Remove those physical obstructions, and get things done!

To:

Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
Discover the benefits of Organizational Coaching;

Please contact me.

Call / text 708.790.1940
Online at  http://peaceofmindpo.com
www.Facebook.com/MColleenKlimczakCPO
Via Twitter, @ColleenCPO

What Do You Want to Clear Out This Week?

downloadBaseball season’s over (Go Cubs!), the clocks have Fallen back, and this election year ard2015-logo-noborderwill soon be one for the history books.  The leaves are flying around the yard today, with a chilly wind.  It feels like November!  And November is a great time to de-clutter, clear the decks, close the door on summer and open up the flannel sheets and hot chocolate.  Conveniently, with November comes America Recycles Day on November 15th!

America Recycles Day, https://americarecyclesday.org/ , is a national initiative of Keep America Beautiful.  Follow the link, then click Attend an Event and plug in your zip code to search for recycling events in your neighborhood.

Looking for more ideas?  Here are 5 things to purge / recycle / donate / re-purpose / etc. this week, to get ready for colder weather and the holidays!

Shoes!  Go through that pile by the door.  Yes, THAT pile.  
Purge the icky shoes (those 4 pairs of old sneakers someone keeps around for “yardwork”?) and the singles (ah, flip flops, missing either a flip or a flop). Donate the too-small ones or never-again ones, and, as it’s November, friends, put the rest of the warm weather shoes away in each owners’ closet.
If you are looking for places to recycle your shoes, just google “shoe recycling”.  There are lots of options out there (for example, Nike recycles shoes to create running tracks and playgrounds).  Locally, check out http://shareyoursoles.org/, a great not-for-profit that shares shoes with under-served populations.
And, won’t it be nice to not trip over shoes every time you come in the door?!

Put Away the Halloween Decor (and the summer stuff, too, if it’s still lingering on).  
November 8th, friends.  Purge the summer and Halloween decor.  Box it up, label it well, put it AWAY with your other seasonal stuff.  Do not spend your cold weather months tripping over off-season stuff.
Enjoy clean and uncluttered surfaces for a few weeks, before the Christmas stuff starts creeping out!

Catalogs and Magazines.  
I recently had an epiphany, and decided to cut myself some slack when it comes to my burgeoning reading pile.  There are days and stages of our lives when we read voraciously, and there are days and stages when reading books or magazines regularly just isn’t meant to be.  My life is currently in the latter stage and the reading pile grows quickly out of control.  Last week, I reviewed my catalog and magazine backlog, and – considering it’s November – I tossed anything from October or before.
You can recycle them, of course, or you can share the magazines with a local doctor or dentist office, or senior centers and nursing homes.

Cardboard.
Ah, yes, cardboard.  Now is the time to purge cardboard.  I don’t know why We (and I mean a global “We” and not just the Klimczaks) all seem to hold on to cardboard boxes longer than necessary.  If you have to keep boxes, break down the tape and store the boxes flat so they take up less space.
We are coming into Christmas season, however, which could be sub-titled “Amazon Prime is awesome and UPS drops off boxes often” season.  As soon as I start our Christmas shopping, more boxes will come.  So, I would challenge you to part with most, if not all, of your cardboard boxes, safe in the knowledge that more will arrive soon.  Break it down flat, and send it out with the recycling this week!

Expectations.
Shoulda, coulda, woulda.
I’ll rarely tell you that you Should Do Something, or Must Do Something else.
We’ve got just a couple months left of 2016.  It’s time to take a look at our current status, look ahead at the next 8 weeks or so, decide…
What Needs to Happen: friends, family, wellness, Holidays, faith, professional efforts?
And
What Does Not Need to Happen: ???
Last week, I completed some long-suffering tasks on my to-do list.  It felt so good to finally complete them and cross them off for good!  What else can go?  Completed tasks, yet, but also unrealistic or unnecessary expectations for yourself or others?

So, embrace America Recycles Day, check out events in your area, and let go of some clutter this week!

“…Except For the People You Meet and The Books You Read.”  Summer Project #3

You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”  

– Charles “Tremendous” Jones, author and motivational speaker.

 

 Last month, I re-read Marie Kondo’s bestseller, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” for a

003presentation at a local library.

 

According to Kondo, the purpose of a book is to impart information.  Once the book is read, it has done its job and fulfilled its purpose.  Therefore, there are a handful of paths every book in your house may take:
  • You keep it because you are reading it now;
  • You keep it to refer back to it again;
  • You keep it because you love it (Kondo’s “Hall of Fame”); or
  • You pass it on so that it can impart its knowledge to someone else.

I love these very simple decision-making choices!   These criteria fit into my typical advice to keep things only if you need / use  / love them (Barbara Hemphill).This week, let’s tackle those book cases!

Tackle the Books a room at a time (or a family member at a time).

     Marie Kondo would suggest bringing every book in the house into one room, piling them on the floor and handling each and every one of them.  I do not agree with this suggestion!  Too messy and too overwhelming for most of us!
     Tackle the books a room (or even a shelf or case) at a time.  This makes much less of a mess, and keeps the project a manageable size.

    Today, I quickly reviewed my tween’s bookcase for any books he has grown out of or doesn’t like anymore.  I also reviewed my own book case, and will ask the teens to review theirs this week, too.

Now is Not the Time To Read.

     Review the books but do not open them! (Per Kondo, and me!)  It’s so easy to get pulled into an old favorite, so do not open the books!  Stay the course, keep your focus, and make your decisions!

Find a Motivator.

There are lots of reasons to move your books along, from your bookshelf to someone else’s.  If you’re looking for motivation, here are a few destinations for books you would like to purge:001
  • Your local public library.  Our Evergreen Park Public Library has a book sale every August, so we have the habit of going through our bookshelves every summer for books to donate.  I spoke last month at the Oak Lawn Public Library, and they always have a sale table, to keep books moving along and to help fund library programs.
  • Little Free Libraries, http://littlefreelibrary.org/  .  Love these!  A few friends have them in their front yards (pictures included), and they are a great place to pick up or leave a book, to move the info around!
  • Leave your book in a public place, after labeling it as a BookCrossing book, to be picked up and shared, check out http://www.bookcrossing.com/ .
  • Contact local retirement or nursing homes, to stock their resident libraries
  • Half-Price Books, www.hpb.com.  You may not make lots of $$, but you may make some!
  • Check out Stick Figure Books, if you have a large collection to part with,  http://www.stickfigurebooks.com/shop/stickfigure/index.html  .
  • If you’re in my neighborhood, check out Bookies,  to buy or sell used books (summer reading lists, anyone?!)  https://www.facebook.com/bookieschicago/  .

Know Your Self and Your Reading Habits.
     As I review my bookshelves this morning, I was extra ruthless with my purging, as I reminded myself that:
  • I have a kindle app on my IPad, so I buy new books in digital form;
  • If I’m traveling, I only bring my Ipad and not physical books;
  • I can check out e-book copies of new and old books from library, also to be read on my Ipad app.

“Should” is not a reason to read a book.
    Kondo tells us that half-read (for a long time)  books are telling us something.  Sometimes, that something is that you don’t want to read that book.
     Over the years, I have read lots of books on the suggestions of others.  And I have loved some of those books.  And I have really disliked some of them, too.

     Today, I am giving you permission:  Unless it’s for school or professional purposes,  You do not have to read a book just because someone gave it to you or told you that you Should read it.

Review your books this week.  Choose the books to keep, and let the others move on to impart their wisdom to others!

Yes, You Really Can Recycle That!

This week, we see America Recycles Day on November 15th.  Follow this link to my previous America Recycles Day post:

Plus, one of my favorite Recycling Lists from Real Simple:

Because of what I do and who I am, clients and readers ask me questions about recycling all the time!  Here are the 5 most recent queries:

  1. What about Christmas lights: Yes, these can be recycled!  Check with your local Home Depot. My local HD in Oak Lawn will collect old Christmas Lights for recycling at the service desk from now until January.   Check your strings this week, and properly dispose of the old ones!
  2. Paint: Yes, there are ways to recycle paint, or at least lessen used paint’s negative impact on the environment.  If your old paint is still usable, contact your local Ace Hardware or Habitat for Humanity to donate it. If it’s not usable: for water based or latex paint, place the cans outside and loosen the lid,  then once the paint hardens in the can, you can throw it away; for oil based paint, there is an additive (like Waste Away Paint Hardener) you can purchase at your local hardware store to mix with the paint and harden it, then you can throw away the can and paint.  We just don’t want liquid paint to end up in a landfill, as it will seep into the ground and groundwater.
  3. License plates: Some states will let you keep your old plates or recycle them with scrap metal, but not Illinois.  Turn old plates in at the DMV, that’s the safest place for them.
  4. Collectibles:  Re-selling is the ultimate in recycling!  A client had a box of Christmas collectibles that she was no longer attached to.  She sold it and made a couple hundred $$$ doing it – more space and more money, Win Win!!
  5. Batteries: don’t actually have to be recycled.  These days, household batteries are made with less harmful materials than they used to be, and can therefore be thrown away with regular garbage. Some communities will still accept batteries for recycling, but it varies widely from town to town.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve found to recycle?  Please share!

I’m A Superhero!  My Shelves Will Help Me Save the Planet! 

We celebrate Earth Day this week, April 22nd.Earth-Day-Images-Free-3
I try to practice Earth Day Every Day, from two directions: setting an example by being eco-friendly in our home and business; and encouraging and informing others with eco-friendly resources. So here are three steps to becoming an Environmental Super-hero, and my real-life Earth Day organizing project (elapsed time, 45 minutes-ish).
Here is how to make positive changes in your behavior, to make Earth Day Every Day:
1.  Know your “Why?”:  Why should we take better care of our environment, on a personal or local level?
  • Obviously, it’s good the environment, which helps all of us.
  • I want to set a good example for my sons, my community and my clients, by choosing environmentally sound practices like recycling and conservation.
  • I want to do Good, even when no one is watching.
  • Being eco-friendly can save money.
  • I despise clutter and stagnant “stuff”, so keeping things moving around, either for charitable donation or recycling, makes me happy.
  • What’s Your “Why”?
2.  Establish and Maintain Eco-Friendly Habits:
  • Decide for yourself and your family / business what type of eco-friendly strategies you want to employ.  We choose:
  • Conservation: My 5th grader’s class talked about water conservation a few months ago, and he brought home a great little tool, a 5-minute shower timer that hangs in the shower. I also recognized an unconscious habit just this morning: as we leave the house in the morning, I walk around turning off lights and fans.
  • Charitable Donations: we have a bin in the laundry room for clothing cast-offs to donate to charity.
  • Recycling: paper, glass, plastic and metal, plus responsibly disposing of EWaste.
3.  Establish Space for your Eco-Friendly Habits:
  • I’m the first to admit that sometimes, the right and eco-friendly thing to do feels like a hassle.
  • I spent time in my garage over the weekend, cleaning up our recycling practices by dedicating garage space for recycling / returns / donations.
  • You see, my clients often ask me to recycle the clutter they choose to purge, and I’m happy to help.  Clothing and household items donated to local charities; books donated to my local library; e-waste dropped at local E-Waste recycling sites.  I don’t always have a chance to drop stuff off right away, though, so stuff accumulates in my van / garage (because it NEVER comes in my home).  And we suffer when items linger (as CLUTTER!) in our garage until I can drop them off at their appropriate eco-friendly destination.
  • So, finally, after assembling dozens of similar shelving units for clients, I bought and assembled chrome sh001elves for my garage. This tall (6 feet) set of shelves can hold all the recycling items as they pause on their way to drop-off, plus my extra organizing supplies and any client returns I might have after a job.  My van is much cleaner now, thank goodness, as is my garage, and my habits will be easier to maintain.
  • So a trip to Home Depot, a little $$ and an hour of my time will help me keep my garage and van cleaner while I protect the environment by using and encouraging eco-friendly clutter destinations.  Seems like a worthwhile investment to me!

So, this week and every week, and this Earth Day and Every Day, what can you do to be a little kinder to our environment? Be a Hero!  Choose your “Why”, Create Your Habit, and Make Some Space!

Paper Management Suggestions for the Lady at the Gas Station.

A woman noticed the magnets on my van, and asked me about my business.

She said “I always say, I need someone to help me with my files.  I always think that it’s just me, and there is something wrong with me”.

No, there is nothing wrong with you, and you are not alone in struggling with your papers. Here’s why:

Image

  • Most of us keep too many papers, and / or keep papers for too long.
  • Most of us name our files the wrong thing, if we even have files.
  • Some of us have barriers to filing, either real or imagined.
  • Most of us don’t maintain our papers often enough.

We keep too many papers, and we keep them for too long:

We keep receipts / business cards / post-it notes / grocery lists far longer than they are useful.

We keep newspapers / children’s daily school work / magazines long after they’ve been read.

We keep papers out of habit, because they started out as “important”, but now they are just old news.

We want to hold on to our papers for “just-in-case”.  HOWEVER, You can purge your papers if:

  • The information exists somewhere else (medical records or on-line banking information);
  • The information is not pertinent to you (flyers for activities that don’t interest you or past events)
  • Purging the paper will have minimal consequences (who reads the privacy notices from credit card companies?)
  • You can’t imagine when or why anyone would ask for that information (utility bills or grocery bills from more than a few months ago, account information from long closed accounts, etc).

We name our files the wrong things, if we even name them at all:

Never name a file Miscellaneous.  Ever.  Either a paper is necessary enough to warrant a file named for it, or it isn’t important and it needs to go.  If you have a “Misc.” file, perhaps it could be more aptly named….:

  • marketing ideas
  • Action Papers
  • general credit / banking information
  • Work To Do
  • You choose…. But make it meaningful.  Name your files, name your papers and get to work.

We have barriers to filing, either real or imagined.  They may include:

  1. Non-existent filing systems (your important papers don’t have a final “Away” in your home or office).
  2. Antiquated filing system (what worked 20 years ago doesn’t anymore).
  3. Physically inconvenient filing: perhaps the file cabinets are under other things, or in a remote corner of your home or office, so papers never get put away, reviewed or purged.
  4. Too-Full file drawers – you have files from 2007, but no room to file the papers from last week.

The solutions are simple: purge the clutter, move the file cabinets, purge or shred the unneeded content.

Most of us don’t maintain our papers often enough.

I know that sounds scary.  As though I am telling you that you have to find more time to work on your papers – ahhhhh!!

But remember, I just told you how to keep a lot less.  Really, we just need to perform maintenance more often but for less time total.  Five to 10 minutes a day to:

  •          Open today’s mail;
  •          Shred today’s shredding (a few pages);
  •          Toss the recycling (a few pages);
  •          Pay this week’s bills (once a week);
  •          Enter a few items into your calendar; and
  •          File the few papers that you actually need to keep.

So, to the lady at the gas station and to you, try one of these ideas this week, and you are not alone in your struggles with paper management!

Happy New Year! 7 Ways To Clear Clutter This Week

I love the hustle and bustle of the holidays, but I also love the calm and clarity that follow.  Here are 7 ways I’m clearing clutter this week, give one or two or all seven a try!

  1. Return stuff to other people:  Hooray!  My kitchen counter is clean again!  Last week, it held a roasting pan, a pie pan, an instruction book for someone else’s gift, a holiday cookie tin and a few other random items, none of which belonged to me.  The tin was the last to go, but as of yesterday, everything is returned!
  2. Donation / Recycling Clutter:  Drop off donations and recyclables, or at least put the next charitable donation pick-up date on your calendar and plan to have a bag ready.  Then start filling that bag!!  We have a couple of bags already filled with donated Christmas decorations, toys and outgrown kid and adult clothes.
  3. Purge cardboard:  I feel like we’ve been swimming in shipping boxes and toy packaging.  The recycling bin filled up quickly over the holidays, but there’s more room this week!  Collect the boxes, break ’em down and lug ’em out.  You’ll be glad you did!
  4. Plan a Returns Day.  Place a shopping bag by the door.  As you go through your home and routines this week, look for the items you intend to return and place them and their receipt in the bag.  If you can’t find the receipt, spend a little time looking for it, but don’t get hung up on perfectionism.  Even if you can’t find the receipt, a smaller amount of store credit or cash back is better than holding on to an item you know you won’t use just because you can’t find the receipt.  Spend an afternoon, and run those errands to return the items.  Cha-ching, money in your pocket and the clutter goes away!
  5. Clear the Catalogs:  Clean off the coffee table, reading pile and kitchen counter.   Call the 800# on the back of the catalogs or go to www.Catalogchoice.net, and remove yourself from mailing lists.  Subscribe online, if you’d like, and you may get regular promotion notices and coupons.  To avoid email notices, skip the subscription, open your web browser, create a bookmark folder called “shopping”, bookmark the page in your browser, and add it to your shopping folder, then toss the catalog!
  6. Phone clutter:  Ugh!  I am tired of the solicitation calls on our home phone line!  Register all phone numbers (cell, too) with the National Do Not Call Registry at www.DoNotCall.gov, if you haven’t done so.  And this month I will answer all calls on the home line, and request that the caller remove me from their list, which they legally must do if we ask.
  7. E-Mail clutter:  I am happy that a few people un-subscribed last week.  As a blogger and newsletter writer, it should not make me happy, but I was proud of those 4 folks on my mailing list for deciding to let go of something that was not working for them. Good for them.  Of course, now that they have un-subscribed, they will never know that I applauded their efforts.  And remember, I welcome your suggestions and comments for improvement, to keep my content meaningful and useful for you.

Yeah, you!  Look around, you’re feeling lighter and looking better already!  Way to go!

Your Car Is Cold! 5 Ways to Clear Garage Clutter

What is the purpose of your garage?  Car storage, first and foremost.  For many, though, the car sits outside all winter while clutter lives safe and warm inside.  Make space by getting of some garage clutter!

What makes garage organizing a challenge?  Garages become a catch-all, a dumping ground for our clutter.  Everyone uses the garage, so it becomes the holding place for all undecided items.  In addition, most of the stuff in the garage is just big, both the space and the items stored in it.  And when the clutter piles up, the task becomes so overwhelming, we just can’t tackle it.  The garage is the last area we care about, though it may be the first one we see when we come home.

I would suggest that garages are unique and deserve our respect.  They are truly multi-functional space, with stuff for all members of the household.  And whether we respect the garage or not, winter is coming and no one wants to scrape frost or snow off their car every day!  Clean Out your garage!

This week we see November 15th, America Recycles Day (per Catalog Choice, “the only nationally recognized day dedicated to the promotion of recycling programs in the United States.”).  Recycling is the best solution for most of the stuff cluttering up your garage!  (click here local events: http://americarecyclesday.org/join-event

Cardboard – toss it, seriously.

We keep boxes for just in case: in case we need it, in case we have to return an item, in case we up and decide to move.  Most of these just-in-cases never come to pass.  Collapse and recycle your cardboard with your weekly pick-up, or drop off at a local collection location. If you must keep your boxes, nest the small ones and break down the big ones to store flat.  You reclaim lots of space, and a roll of packing tape will restore them later.

Appliances / EWaste like computers, televisions, cords, etc. 

If the item works, try Facebook groups, like buy / sell / trade groups or local groups.  Whether the items works or not, you can join a local group on www.Freecycle.org, or check out Appliance pick up or EWaste recycling in your area (check out My Recycling Guide).

Paint / Hazardous Chemicals:

For more information about hazardous waste disposal sites in your area, click here: http://www.epa.state.il.us/land/hazardous-waste/household-haz-waste/ .  If you have paint to dispose of, check http://earthpaintscs.com/index.shtml

Other People’s Stuff

If you need help organizing your garage, enlist aid.  Call friends and family, especially the people who have been storing things at your house.  Ask for their assistance with clearing out the garage, and using firm but loving language, ask them for help and tell them the time has come for their stuff to go.

Vertical storage

Imagine all the stuff on the floor of your garage stored vertically on the wall.  Great, right?  There are snazzy garage storage systems like Gorilla Racks or Metro Shelving, but you can reap benefits for a lot less money, too.  For less than $100 at Home Depot, you can purchase some free standing shelves for bulky items, and nails or hooks to install on the studs for hanging storage for items.  I spent 10 minutes in a client’s garage recently, pounding nails into studs for vertical storage.  You can also store stuff in the garage rafters, or suspended from the roof beams.  We hang our bikes from rafter hooks over the winter, above my husband’s car, and clear space in the garage for easier movement.

Finally, once you have cleared your garage clutter, determine zones (storing like items together) and homes (permanent spots) for things, or you will end up right back where you started.  In garages, zones are based on categories like: Seasonal (holiday), Yard / Outdoor, Garden, Hardware, etc.

Spend an hour or two in your garage this week, and you will thank yourself all winter long!