I have the best Christmas Storage products and they really help me become organized for Christmas. Having Christmas storage products makes it easier to find the items and they also protect fragile items from getting broken.

The following are a few of my favourite Christmas storage products:

1. Wreath storage container – I love this container because my wreath fits in it perfectly and it helps protect fragile items on the wreath from getting damaged. This is best to be stored up high on a shelf and although it helps to protect the wreath from damaging, I don’t store anything heavy on top of it.

Walmart

2. Ornament Storage Container – This particular ornament storage container is my favourite because it is adjustable. It has adjustable dividers so you can put both large and small ornaments in it. I also like that it is made of plastic so you have a better chance of the ornaments not breaking. Also, I like that it has a see through lid so you can see the ornaments without having to open it.

Walmart

3. Gift bag organizer – I love this product because it is so handy. It is a gift bag organizer but I don’t just put bags in it. I keep everything in it that I need to use to wrap a gift with the exception of wrapping paper. I love keeping my tissue paper, tape, scissors, bows and anything else I may need inside this one organizer. Another good feature about this organizer is that it is double sided, so you can keep twice as many products in this one organizer.

Solutions

4. Clear plastic bins – are great for holding larger Christmas items, such as garland, candles or Christmas décor. Don’t forget to label each container by listing what is inside.

Walmart

5. Wrapping paper storage container – I haven’t been able to find a picture of the one that I use, but this one below is very similar. The only major difference is the price so it may be a stronger container. I paid less than $10 for mine and bought it at The Christmas Tree Shop in Watertown.

Amazon

I wasn’t able to find the same one that I bought at the Christmas Tree Shop, but they do carry the following one that may be just as useful.

Christmas Tree Shops

Using Christmas storage containers is one way that has helped me be organized for Christmas. I would love to hear which product you like best, and what Christmas storage ideas you use.

Have a wonderful holiday and all the best for the New Year xxoo
Kathy xxoo

Kathy McEwan is a Certified Professional Organizer and Owner of Second Set of Hands
www.secondsetofhands.ca

The Christmas season is fun and exciting especially when you are spending time with family and friends. However, getting ready for Christmas can be stressful and time consuming. Follow these 7 tips to an Organized Christmas and you will save time, be organized and enjoy a peaceful holiday!

1. Make Room – It is a good idea to make room for the new items that will be brought in your home. Your children will be receiving Christmas presents so take time to go through their toys to see if any items are not being used. If there are items that they have stopped playing with or outgrown, now is a good time to donate or sell those items.

2. Schedule important dates – Take out your planner and schedule important tasks and activities. For example – What day would you like to have all your Christmas shopping done by or bake your cookies for the cookie exchange? Start your shopping early. Schedule your dinner parties and family activities. Check your calendar each week and pick up any items that you need for the week or the following week.

3. Wrap your presents as soon as you get them – Wrapping right away will help prevent little ones from seeing their presents, and also saves you from doing last minutes wrapping on Christmas Eve.

4. Organize your home – Declutter and organize your home so you will feel relaxed and calm for the holidays. Do 30 mins a day and focus on completing smaller tasks each day rather than stressing about the whole house.

5. Prepare your Christmas Cards – Go through your cards to make sure you have enough. Go through your list and make sure all addresses are up to date. Mail them out at least a couple weeks before Christmas.

6. Stock up on batteries – Many toys, hand held video players, and other presents will require batteries. Stock up now and you will be prepared for Christmas day.

7. Be prepared for the unexpected– Stock up on small gifts for those days when you need one unexpectedly. It will save you from having to run out at the last minute to get one. Have them wrapped and ready to go. Ex. chocolates or candles

Once you are all organized for the holidays, relax and enjoy your time with family and friends.

I would love to hear which tip was your favourite, and if you have tips to share, please post them. I would love to hear your ideas too!

Happy Holidays,

Kathy


20 Clutter-free gift ideas!

Halloween is over, and now I am focusing on our family birthday’s that are coming up. My daughter’s and husband is this month and they are two days apart. My birthday (although I don’t really care for them anymore lol) is right dab in the middle of my daughter’s and my husband’s birthday. Next month our family will be celebrating Christmas, so every year at this time, I am thinking about what presents I need to buy. When my children were smaller, I loved buying a ton of gifts and watching them get so excited while opening all the gifts. Our tradition is to open one present at a time so it would take a long time to go through them all, and I loved every minute of it.

Today, I am looking at gift buying in a different way. I am not judging anyone who believes in buying a lot of gifts for family and friends, as mentioned, I did too. But I am wondering if we really need that many gifts? As a professional organizer, I have come across homes that are stuffed with a ton of items. Not all my clients have too much stuff, but the ones that do, call me asking for help because they are overwhelmed by all their stuff. I am honoured to help them because I truly want to help them clear the clutter and get organized. I want them to feel joy when they walk into their home, not overwhelmed by all the stuff.

It wasn’t always like this. Many years ago we didn’t have credit cards, and I don’t believe there were as many items out there to buy. We lived in smaller homes and had many children. I could be wrong but I don’t think many people invited 10 or more children to their children’s birthday parties, but instead, they invited a few of their closest friends. I realize that having lots of people at a child’s party is a lot of fun, but with the fun comes lots of presents. When you are buying gifts for your children, ask yourself, do my children have a ton of toys, games, craft supplies etc. and if so, do they really need a ton more? Looking back over the years of gift giving with my children, I wish I could have given them more of my time, rather than focusing on the gifts. When my kids were small, I ran a home daycare so I could be home with them. But I was also going to University and spending a lot of my time studying. I would have loved to spend more quality time with them.

It is not just children that have a lot of stuff, it is adults too. As adults, we sometimes keep all the gifts we have accumulated over the years. Not wanting to let the gifts go for fear of hurting the feelings of the gift giver, and sometimes we buy ourselves too much stuff. The next time you are buying a gift for a friend or family member that has everything, consider giving a clutter- free gift.

Here is a list of gift ideas that don’t take up a lot of space:

Museum passes
Movie passes
Restaurant gift certificates
Gas gift certificates
CAA/AAA memberships
Spa gift certificates
Hair Salon gift certificates
Tickets to a game
Consumables – Wine or other alcohol drinks and food
Classes – cooking, painting, dance, yoga, college/university, music classes etc.
Pottery workshops
Theatre tickets
Swimming or skating passes
Cleaning company gift certificate
Horseback riding lessons
Coffee shop gift card
Kindle or ITunes gift cards
Concert tickets
Gym membership
Professional Organizer gift certificate

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying to never give material gifts. There is something special about giving a gift that our loved ones can keep for years to come, or one they could really use. I am just suggesting that there are clutter-free gifts that can be special too, especially for those who already have a lot of stuff.

Do you have a favorite gift that you received that did not take up a lot of space? If so, I would love to hear what it was.

Until next time,
Kathy

Goals

3 Proven Ways to Reach Your Goals!

 

I am going to share a goal of mine and how you too can reach your goals. Let me start by saying happy 5 year anniversary to me!!! I can’t believe that it was 5 years ago today that I had a little idea that I wanted to turn into a business (my goal!). I wanted to start a business that helped people create more time for themselves and become less overwhelmed. I started by doing concierge services and home organization and quickly learned that my passion was in home organizing, so I dropped the concierge side of the business.  I worked full-time in the Ontario Government and tried to run Second Set of Hands part-time until close to the end of 2014. It was really hard to run a business while working full-time. It didn’t work for me at all.

In January 2015, I kicked off the year by taking a big risk and going full-time with the business. I decided to include packing and unpacking to our list of services because I love to pack and unpack, but also because I saw a real need in helping our clients who were moving. They needed to declutter and get their home organized for staging purposes and also needed help with packing up all their belongings, unpacking, and getting their new home organized.

Fast forward to today! Second Set of Hands is still going strong. We have a team of 5 part-time organizers and 1 part-time administrative assistant/marketing coordinator. I shake my head sometimes when I think about how far we have come. I made a dream come to reality and you can too! If you were to think about a dream you would love to accomplish, what would it be? How can you make it happen? Here are a few tips that I learned along the way that I hope will help you make your dreams come true.

  1. Pick a goal that you would like to achieve. Make sure that this goal will motivate you and that there is value to obtaining the goal. If your goal is important and has value, then you are more likely to achieve it.
  2. Visualize yourself accomplishing your goal. This is an important step because by visualizing yourself accomplishing your goal, you will be more driven to believe you can do it. Write down why this goal is important to you and picture the end result.
  3. Make it happen. Break down your goal into obtainable tasks. Be sure to write each task down and how you will achieve it. Give yourself a deadline for when you want to complete each task, and cross them off as you complete them. Keep in mind that goals don’t usually happen overnight. It may take time and a lot of hard work, but you can do it!

So what is a dream or goal of yours that you would love to accomplish? Feel free to share in the comments. I would love to hear what your goals are.

P.S. Don’t forget to join our FREE Faceook Group Organize for Success by clicking here and asking to join. 

Happy goal setting! 

Kathy

Kathy McEwan, Professional Organizer

Kathy McEwan – Certified Professional Organizer (CPO)

Happy Thanksgiving

Wow, where did the summer go? We were so busy this summer that I didn’t have time to do very much; no blogs, no newsletters, no videos, no vacation, not nearly enough time with family and friends, but I did meet and help some of the most amazing clients this summer. With summer being a busy moving season, we did a lot of decluttering, home and office organizing, prepping homes for resale, packing and unpacking. Now I can’t believe it but it is almost time for Thanksgiving in Canada. I celebrate Thanksgiving every year by inviting my family over for supper and we also celebrate my son’s birthday which always lands on Thanksgiving weekend. We used to celebrate my grandmother’s birthday as well since her birthday was 2 days after my son’s, but she passed away a couple of years ago. She may not be here with us this Thanksgiving weekend, but we will be thinking about her. If you are hosting a Thanksgiving dinner, the following are some tips to help you prepare and be organized for your Thanksgiving dinner. 

Thanksgiving weekend is almost here, which often means hosting friends and family.

Some of us are natural hosts who enjoy the hustle of preparing our homes for guests. Others feel anxious and overwhelmed about having family into our private space, and struggle to take it one step at a time in order to feel relaxed enough to enjoy the time together.

 

Here are 10 easy tips to help you get organized and host your Thanksgiving dinner:

  1. Check your entertaining inventory. Be sure you have enough dishes, cutlery, napkins, and glassware for all of your guests. Check that they are in good shape, and that you don’t need to replace any that may have become damaged since the last time you used them. Also keep in mind dishes that may serve double-duty—will the same plates need to be used for salad and dessert?
  2. Assign dishes to your guests if you are hosting a cooperative dinner. Make sure each guest knows what they are bringing, and for how many guests. Make sure the stove/oven/refrigerator will be available if their dishes require those appliances.
  3. Create your grocery list, considering every item you may need: spices, condiments, baking ingredients, and of course your turkey and vegetables. Keep a list on the kitchen counter to add things as they come to mind in the days leading up to your shopping trip.
  4. Check your Thanksgiving/Autumn décor collection. Do you need to pick up new candles, decorative pumpkins, flowers, napkins, etc?
  5. If your turkey is frozen, allow one day of thawing in the refrigerator for each 4lbs of weight. This could mean a week or longer for large turkeys, so be sure to plan ahead.
  6. Prepare any dishes ahead that can be frozen a week or longer ahead, or refrigerated a day or two ahead.
  7. If your dining room isn’t used on a daily basis, start setting the table a few days in advance. I can’t do this because I have cats and they would jump on my table, even though they are not allowed to! Leave labeled spaces along the center for your serving dishes to ensure there is enough room for everything once your guests are seated.
  8. Tidy and decorate any additional guest spaces, like the entry way, powder room, guest bedroom, family/living room. Make guests feel welcome by placing seasonal scented candles, decorative hand soap and towels, fresh flowers in those spaces.
  9. Prepare and cook what you can the day before, or early in the day, so you are reheating instead of cooking at mealtime, allowing time to be with your guests.
  10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your guests. Family and friends like to contribute. Have somebody pour drinks, light candles, serve dessert, etc. Make it a collaborative effort!
  11. BONUS: Have fun!

I hope these tips will help you prepare for your family dinner, and that you can relax and enjoy the time you have with your guests.

My team and I wish you a very happy and safe Thanksgiving weekend!

Kathy

P.S. Don’t forget to join our FREE Facebook Group Organize For Success for more organizing tips! 

Spring is a great time to get organized and do a deep clean in your home. I always suggest being organized throughout the year, but especially during spring, because then you can spend more time having fun and relaxing in the summer, rather than spending your time getting organized and cleaning.

If you don’t have the time, energy or skills to get organized and have your home cleaned, then you may want to invest in hiring a professional organizer or cleaning company to help you. As a professional organizer, I often get asked what the difference is between professional organizers and a cleaning company. There is a big difference. Clearing the clutter and cleaning a home often go hand in hand, however, the majority of certified professional organizers do not do home cleaning. At Second Set of Hands, our staff of professional organizers wipe down counters, kitchen cupboards, tables etc., but they do not do spend their time cleaning our clients’ homes.

A professional organizer can help you by doing the following:

1. Go through your items with you and help you decide what to keep, donate, sell, give to family members, recycle, put in garbage etc.
2. Remove donations and drop them off for you
3. Organize any area of your home or office
4. Maximize your living space and help get your home ready to be put up for sale
5. Help you with productivity and time management
6. Recommend storage solutions and organizing products to help you stay organized
7. Pack up and/or unpack your items and organize your new home

As for cleaning, once your home has been cleared of clutter, or some of your items have been packed up for your move, then we recommend having a professional cleaning company to come in and clean your home. It is much easier to clean a home when it has less stuff.

Since cleaning is not our specialty, we asked Rebecca Page, Founder of Concierge Home Services in Ottawa, ON a few cleaning questions to help you with your cleaning needs.

1. What are common cleaning mistakes that people make?

A common cleaning mistake is to use too many cleaning products. It is easy to believe the marketing and think that new bottle will magically make everything sparkle. The reality is that the right tools and techniques are as important as the product. Sometimes, people use more product than necessary because they love the scent. When it comes to cleaning products, less is usually more. In some cases, too much product can cause damage. Oil-based cleaners are known to build up on wood floors, which dull them over time.

Another common mistake is not cleaning or replacing cleaning tools. That old sponge-mop may have been a great purchase 8 years ago, but today it’s musty and ineffective. You can’t get a floor clean with a dirty mop! We recommend using microfiber cloths and washable mop pads, and laundering them between cleans.

2. What cleaning products do you recommend?
We recommend that people start with a few all-purpose cleaners, and reach for the specialized products when necessary.

Basic cleaning products are:
a. mild dish soap or all-purpose cleaner for bathrooms
b. Warm water and vinegar for hardwood, linoleum, vinyl, and tile floors
c. baking soda for a gritty cleaner to scrub stovetops and tubs
d. a degreaser for kitchen surfaces

3. What is the best spring cleaning tip you recommend?
For spring cleaning, use tea tree oil soap to sanitize and deodorize the areas which may have been neglected all winter.

I wish you all lots of luck with your spring cleaning. If you have any organizing questions, feel free to reach out to me here or Join our FREE Facebook group Organize for Success.

Happy organizing and cleaning!
Kathy

productive, stressed, sleeping
Be Highly Productive by Following These Easy Steps

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night with that “How am I going to get it all done” panic? It happens to most of us at some point or another, and for some it happens more often than not. Without quality sleep, our days become less efficient, and our entire lives are impacted.
So, how do you settle into bed with a clear mind and a sense of calm about the day ahead?

As part of your bedtime routine, sit quietly with your notebook and:

1. Make a list of the three most important things you want to accomplish the next day

2. Break each task into smaller, actionable items where possible

3. Schedule each task or actionable item into your calendar by 15 or 30 minute intervals

Here is an example: Tomorrow you need to call your insurance broker, buy a birthday gift for a loved one, and plan a dinner party. Start by scheduling the time in your calendar for when you will call your insurance broker and buy the birthday gift. Block off the length of time you think it will take you to do the tasks, and block extra time because things always seem to come up unexpectedly.

Now that you have scheduled calling your insurance broker and buying a birthday gift, it leaves planning a dinner party, which can be overwhelming. The trick is to write down all the tasks that are required to plan the dinner party and how long you think it will take each task. Then schedule them in your calendar . Here is an example:
1. Decide on guest list (15mins)
2. Plan the menu (30mins)
3. Write grocery list (15mins)
4. List places to shop (15mins)
5. Send out invitations (15mins)

You may think, “do I really have to go through all that trouble of putting it in my calendar?”, but by seeing the assigned blocks of time in your calendar, it will help you realize exactly how long it may take you to do each task. This should reduce your feeling of overwhelm in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning, because you have everything scheduled in.

If you don’t have enough time in your day to do all the tasks, then take something away, and try pushing it out to another day.

If you have extra time in the day once your top three tasks are scheduled, feel free to add in some other manageable tasks, making your day even more productive, or spend time doing something that you love to do.

What is one thing you would like to accomplish tomorrow?

Until next time,
Kathy
Xxoo

Kathy McEwan is an organizing and productivity expert and owner of Second Set of Hands.

Tips for Buying and Selling Your Home

5 Organizing Tips When Selling Your Home!

1. Start Early.

Give yourself plenty of time to find a reputable real estate agent, lawyer, mortgage broker, professional organizer, painter etc.

2. Declutter at least 3 months before you plan on moving.

Start with one area or room and decide what you want to keep, donate, sell etc. Let go of what you do not need and want. When one area is complete, move on to the next. This is an important step because you will not want to take the time to pack and unpack stuff you don’t want, also you won’t want to pay movers to move stuff that you don’t want or need. If you find this step overwhelming, then reach out to a professional organizer to help you.

3. Don’t wait until your home is sold to start packing.

Pack up items you will not need while your home is up for sale. Label boxes and put a red sticker or a different colour moving tape on all boxes to let you know that these items are not as important to unpack right away. After you pack them up, put them away in an area that will be out of the way, such as your basement or garage. These items may include off season items such as seasonal clothes or holiday items.

4. Use a planner.

Either electronic or hard copy and start keeping track of all your appointments that you will be having ex. mortgage broker, lawyer etc. Also, keep track of all the business cards/phone numbers and receipts of lawyers, real estate agents, handy man etc. and keep them all in one place ex. a binder.

5. Book Movers and buy packing supplies.

This should be done 6 to 8 weeks before moving day. Order boxes, bubble wrap, paper, tape, and specialty boxes such picture boxes. If you don’t have the time to get supplies or pack, feel free to reach out to us for help. We would love do all the work for you, so you can focus on other important tasks that need to be done.

5 Organizing Tips When Buying a Home

1. Mortgage

Visit your mortgage broker right away to discuss your needs. Once you know how much your budget allows, it will give you a better understanding on what your target market will be.

2. Real Estate Agent

Make a list of your top “wants” for your new home and pass it on to your Agent.

3. Take measurements.

Check room dimensions of your new home. Take measurements of furniture, pictures, mirrors, bedframes etc. and make sure larger furniture will fit through the door and fit in the assigned rooms. Draw a floor plan!

4. Change of Address.

After you have bought your dream home and a month before your move, don’t forget to change your address at the post-office.

5. Notify.

Notify your doctor/dentist office, children’s school, employer’s human resource department, banks, brokerage firms, magazines and newspapers, credit card, insurance, telephone, cable and utility companies of your change of address . Don’t forget to change your driver’s license and update your health card too!

If you are moving and would like more tips or help with decluttering, packing or unpacking your home, please feel free to contact us. We would be more than happy to help.

Kathy McEwan

Professional organizer, moving specialist and owner of Second Set of Hands

Kathy McEwan, Professional Organizer

 

perfectionism, perfect, goals, time management, organized, organize

Worried.

Do you struggle with organizing your home because you want your home to look perfect? Do you feel like you will not do a good enough job when organizing your home?

Often my clients say they don’t know where to start and they feel overwhelmed, and that is very true, but sometimes what is holding them back from getting started is perfectionism. They have high standards. They love Pinterest and Instagram for the beautiful pictures of organized homes, but feel like they will never be able to achieve that look for their own home. This may be true because many people need the help and guidance of a professional organizer and possible designer, but that is ok. It is ok to reach out for help.

When our standards are too high, we often feel discouraged. We feel like a failure. We are not happy, even when there have been major positive changes in regards to our homes getting organized. We feel like what we have accomplished is not enough.

Your home doesn’t have to be perfect, gosh mine isn’t, but instead it can be neat and tidy, functional and a relaxing environment for you to live in. I am far from perfect, and chances are you are not perfect either, and that is okay.

Features of Perfectionism
1. Never satisfied with completed work
2. Unrealistic goals and standards
3. Highly self-critical
4. Self-worth linked to success
5. High level of worry and anxiety
(Gould, 2012)

Follow these tips and you will become less of a perfectionist and happier with yourself and your work.
1. Tell yourself “it doesn’t have to be perfect”
2. Lower your expectations. Try not to set your goals too high
3. Celebrate the progress you have made and not perfection
4. Learn what should be perfect and what doesn’t have to be (Ex. If you take your car in to get the breaks repaired, they should be done perfect so that there is no chance of having a car accident. However, when asking your 6 year old child to fold his/her laundry, it doesn’t have to be perfect.)

Is there anything you struggle with because you don’t think you will do a good job? If so, leave a comment below. I would love to help you so you can succeed in accomplishing your goals.

Until next time,
Kathy xxoo

If you struggle with getting organized, and would like some help, please contact Kathy for a free half hour consultation where you can discuss your goals and what is holding you back.

Kathy McEwan is a professional organizer and productivity expert. Kathy and her team have helped 100’s of clients get organized with in-person organizing or via coaching calls. Let Kathy help you!

Feeling stressed

Feeling Stressed

Do you find there is not enough time in the day? Is your life or work spinning out of control? Do you lack energy to get everything you want done? If so, you are not alone. I am hearing this from my clients all the time, and I too feel that way at times, or at least I start to feel that way. When I do feel that way, changes need to be done. We need to step back and take a look at all that we do each day. That is what I did recently and I want to share the changes that I did to help me have a more productive day and have less stress.

For me, it is not about raising children while working. I have been there and I will share how I was able to raise 5 kids, make supper for 7 people, do laundry for 7 people etc. and still be productive and happy at home and work. I will be sharing the changes I made so that my day went smoothly and was way less stressful during a different video or article which will be coming soon. So stay tuned!

Running on empty
Recently, I felt that I had too much on my plate regarding my business, Second Set of Hands, and I knew changes had to be made. I was working with clients approximately 4 hours a day, plus travel time which sometimes added another 2 hours. So that is 6 hours a day that was spent on working with clients and traveling to and from their home. Then I had to do all the rest of the work that is required while running a business. That included, posting in social media (twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn), writing blogs, working on presentations, scheduling clients, answering emails, returning phone calls, networking and so much more. It became impossible to do it all.

[embedyt]https://youtu.be/lnQ75AfhuEY[/embedyt]

Changes that I am making
When we have too much to do, we need to cutback. It is as simple as that. As much as I love working hands on with my clients to help them get their home organized, I realized that I need to be more of the project manager and still be involved with my clients, but not do as much of the organizing. Passing that on to someone else was very difficult for me. I believe in going above and beyond for our clients, and wasn’t sure that I would find staff that would be able to do it. That is a mindset thing. I needed to change my mindset.

In the last year or so, I brought on a wonderful organizer, and hired another one a few months ago. I plan to bring on another one sometime between now and spring. My husband is also part of my team, and all my staff have been thoroughly trained by me. Because I need to be in my office more, and still want to work directly with clients, I will be doing more of the coaching calls, mentoring, and developing and doing presentations and workshops. Not saying that I won’t organize anymore, but saying I won’t be doing as much. I am super excited about this change and have a new website (still need to add a bit more information, but getting there), that explains more of what I will be doing (www.kathymcewan.com). I made a couple of other changes too.

1. Rented an outside office – best investment I made. I get way more done here than I did at home
2. Hired a bookkeeper to help me with payroll. Love her!

****So what can you do to cutback and outsource? What struggles do you have? Leave a comment below. I would love to hear why you feel that you don’t have enough time in the day to get everything you need done. I would love to help you!

Kathy McEwan
xxxooo

Kathy McEwan is a professional organizer and productivity expert who specializes in helping her clients go from overwhelmed to organized. Be sure to pop onto her sister website kathymcewan.com and let her know how she can help you get organized and have a productive life with less stress.


Sorting through your loved one’s belongings after death

I often get asked, “What kind of clients typically call you for organizing help?” The answer is about 1/3 of our clients are seniors or those with health problems, 1/3 are busy professionals and the remaining third are those who are chronically disorganized. But there is another common factor that my clients often have. I am getting more and more calls from those who have lost a loved one and need help going through their loved ones belongings. This week 3 out of 6 of our clients had lost a loved one, and my heart goes out to each and every one of them.

Client A lost both his parents who were elderly, and needed help going through all their belongings in preparation of putting their home up for sale.
Client B lost her husband to cancer. He was only 53 years old.
Client C’s roommate passed away and I believe she was in her thirties.

After losing a loved one, we go through a series of emotions including sadness, overwhelm, and loneliness. Sorting through the personal belongings of your loved one can be extremely overwhelming, so here are a few tips to help you with the process.

1. If you are not ready, don’t do it – If you are not pressed for time, then take your time going through the items. Wait until you are emotionally ready.

2. Ask for help – don’t be shy about asking for help. It can be very overwhelming when making decisions on what to keep and what not to, so reach out for help. If you don’t want to ask friends or family members to help you, then consider hiring a professional organizer. PO’s can help you with the decision process, as well as be there for emotional support.

3. Be thorough – Everyone is different during this process, but most people are not excited about going through every little item. But make sure you do because you never know what you might find. I once found a lot of money (over a thousand dollars) stuffed into old papers. My client was very happy with that find.

4. If you don’t want it, ask family and friends if they do – If you come across items that you don’t have room for or don’t want, ask family and friends if they may be interested in them. You may be surprised at what they want.

5. Your loved one would not want you to be drowning in their stuff – I see this often, especially when a parent passes away. Some of my clients have boxes and boxes of their parents stuff and have a hard time parting with them. Please keep in mind, your parents would not want you to have a full basement, garage or home with all their stuff. They would not want you to be overwhelmed by all the stuff. They would want you to let the stuff go.

6. Selling items – when it comes to selling items, there are many different ways to do so ex. Estate sale, auctioneers, antique dealers, on-line auctions, you sell the items etc. Make sure to do your research on how to sell your loved ones items.

7. Memories – Letting go of loved one’s items can be difficult to do, but keep in mind, they are possessions. You will always have memories of your loved one, whether you have their possessions or not. It is ok to keep some items, but you don’t need to keep them all. If there is an item that brings happy memories to you, but it takes up a lot of room, and you really don’t need it, consider taking a picture of it. Pictures take up a lot less space.

Going through a loved ones belongings who has passed away can be tough. It can be very overwhelming, tedious and exhausting. Don’t forget to reach out for help.

Until next time,
Kathy
xxoo

Kathy McEwan is a professional organizer and owner of Second Set of Hands. If you would like more information on sorting through a loved one’s possessions, or home/office organizing, feel free to fill out the contact form on the About Us page.

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11 Best Time Management Tips

Summer is flying by and before you know it, students will be heading back to school. A few years ago, I was an instructor at a local college and I also held Time Management workshops for first year students. Having strong time management skills can reduce stress and enhance students’ grades. Here are some of the tips I used, and new ones, which are ideal for high school students, college or university students.

1. Use a calendar – The type of calendar depends on what you feel the most comfortable using. Some students prefer to use electronic ones, while others use the paper based ones. It doesn’t matter as The best ones to use are weekly ones that have lots of room to make notes.

2. Plan Early – Write down your due dates of your assignments and tests right away. Make Friday your plan your week day. Yup, at the end of the week, plan the following week days using blocks of time for each task leaving room for last minute assignments and other items that might come up. Write down non-academic things too like when you are going to do your laundry, get groceries etc.

3. Create daily to-do lists – Weekly planning is important but daily to-do lists are equally important. Each night plan for you next day. If you have items already on your calendar, just start scheduling other tasks around those items.

4. Don’t procrastinate – Start your assignments, reading material and any other school work right away and try not to leave it to the last minute. Something always tends to come up which could cause you not to be able to finish your work on time, and who wants to be stressed at the last minute?

5. Prior to Class – Before each class, review your notes and reading material. Highlight key points.

6. After Class – After each class, review your notes and write down any questions you may have. If you don’t find the answer to the questions, be sure to ask your instructor.

7. Breakdown big projects into smaller ones – Create due dates for each small part allowing for extra time in case one part takes longer than expected.

8. Form a study group – Schedule time to meet with colleagues and discuss your class lectures, assignments, labs, exams etc. Having a study group is a great way to meet new people, develop friendships, have a support system, and great for studying!

9. Don’t let part-time employment take over your school work – As an instructor I used to see students in this dilemma often, and I although I did understand, it was very hard for the students. If it is possible, try not to take on too many shifts at work if it means it will impact your academic grades and also cause you a lot of stress. In other words, only takes those extra shifts if you really need them.

10. Use your time wisely – There will be lots of time when you will be waiting in line-ups, waiting for your teacher or professor to arrive, waiting for a bus, sitting on a bus, waiting for your next class. Use this time to do your reading or other work that can be done.

11. Save time for family and friends – It is important to have social time. The key is to learn how to balance social time with academic time. Too much social time can lead to poor academic grades and not enough can lead to stress and loneliness. Balance it right and be sure to schedule time in for the important people in your life!

I wish all you students the best of luck with your studies. Reach for your goals and your dreams and you will do great!

Until next time,
Kathy

Kathy McEwan is a professional Organizer, Consultant and Owner of Second Set of Hands. She has helped numerous clients get organized, gain order and simplify their lives. For more information please visit www.secondsetofhands.ca