Do you want to reduce mind clutter and gain clarity? Most of us do at some point. You are thinking about your finances, having to drop off your kids to their sports activities, what to make for supper, how to organize your home, all the work you need to do at your workplace, calls you need to make to clients etc. The list never ends. We live in such a fast passed society that this has become the norm. However, if you follow these simple steps to help reduce mind clutter, you will feel more peaceful, focused and happy!

1. To-do lists – If your mind is full of the things you need to get done, write them down. If you have a long list of to-do’s, not to worry, focus on completing the most important ones first. Put dates beside each task for when you want the task to be completed. Give yourself ample time to complete the tasks and just focus on the ones with the earliest completion date.

2. Declutter – If you have a cluttered home, chances are you have a cluttered mind. A cluttered room is a constant reminder of what you need to do to get it organized. Whether it is getting rid of some of your belongings, organizing your kitchen cupboards, or clearing off your desk, it is a constant reminder that these tasks have to be done. Also, if your rooms are cluttered, chances are you will not find an item when you need it. Not finding your items leads to stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed. Declutter your home and it will help declutter your mind.

3. Don’t multi-task – I say this often and it is so true. I know sometimes we have no choice but to multi-task, but whenever possible focus on doing one thing and complete it before going on to the next task. Our mind gets full of clutter when we are trying to do several things at once.

4. Journal – Taking out a journal and writing down what’s on your mind is a great way to declutter the brain. Your journal will be yours alone so you can journal about whatever you like. It could include your goals, your dreams, favorite movies, whatever is bothering at the moment and how you plan to fix it. By writing everything down, you are releasing the information and clearing mind clutter.

5. Have routines in place – The more you and your family have routines in place the better. Do you get up at the same time each day? Do you have your clothes for work and your children’s clothes picked out the night before? Do you have your meals for the week written down with a list of any grocery items you need to buy? These are just a few ways you can have schedules in place which will help reduce brain clutter.

6. 15 mins a day – Take at least 15 minutes a day and chill out. Take this time to clear you brain, relax, schedule a massage, meditate, do whatever you like to take your mind off of what is stressing you.

7. Talk it out – If you are really overwhelmed, stressed, have too many things on your mind, talk to a friend, your spouse, a family member or anyone that can help you let out what you are thinking. The more you talk it out, the better your mind clutter will be.

My challenge for you this week is to act on at least a couple of these tips. The more tips you do the better, and let me know which ones you did and if it helped your mind clutter. Good Luck!

Until next time,

If you have young school age children, or older, you know what it is like to have your child come home from school each day with a handful of crafts, art work, papers, quizzes, and homework. The questions that my clients often ask me are, “What do I do with all this and should I keep it all?” My answer is “It is ok not to keep everything and only keep your favorite items. However, if you want to keep a lot of your child’s mementos, I would recommend that you keep their favorite art pieces, crafts, a couple of tests/quizzes and hand written stories from each grade.” Myself, I was not one to keep a lot of the items from each grade. Instead, I focused on keeping a smaller collection of my children’s favorite art work and school work.

Now that you know what to keep, what do you do with them? Often I come across children’s school papers and art work stuffed in boxes, unorganized, and stored in my clients storage rooms or in basements. Rather than keeping them stuffed in a box or container with no order, here are a few fun and easy ways to organize your children’s school work. Each method is practical, organized and easy to store.

The first one is the File Box with Hanging Files method. These boxes are usually found at stationary stores like Staples or big box stores like Walmart.
– Label the outside of the container with your child’s name on it
– Hang several hanging file folders and label each folder kindergarten to grade 12
– You can also add additional files relating to your child if you wish e.g. health records, birthday parties and sports
– Put everything you collected from each grade including class pictures in each file
– Using colour coded hanging files is ideal as it is easier for your brain to remember, find and retrieve when it is chunked into categories
– Keep everything in each file organized e.g. crafts together, stories together, notes together etc.
– I also recommend that you use photo sleeves or sheet protectors to help protect the items. Some items you may want to even laminate
You can view how Destination Domestication completed her file box below:

Image found at Destination Domestication

The second solution I wanted to share is creating a scrapbook. It is a great way to bring out a decorative book and look over your child’s wonderful memories. This method can be more time consuming but can also be very relaxing and you will be organizing your child’s treasures at the same time!

The third idea is using an accordion style portable file. You know the ones that close in the front and have the handle on the top? These are also found at stationary stores like Staples and big box stores like Walmart. Be sure to put your child’s name on the front and label each partition with Kindergarten to grade 12. Add other names to the partitions if needed and keep your items neat and organized in each section. Use the photo sleeves or sheet protectors to help protect the items.

Image found at Delightful Order

The last solution that I want to share is using Decorative Binders.
– If possible, use one large binder per child and include all school years in the one binder
– Decorate binder with your favourite scrapbook paper
– Put your child’s name on the front
– Organize all of your child’s items per year and put it in your binder
– Put a tab per year for easy and quick reference
– Use photo sleeves and sheet protectors to help organize and protect your child’s precious items
You can view how Lisa Woodruff at Organize365 created her albums below:

Image found at

Now, what about the projects or art that are too big to fit in the file folders, scrapbook or binders? Or the ones that have food e.g. macaroni or are really messy and you really do not want to keep? Keeping all those big items would cause a lot of clutter, and for the ones that you really do not want to keep but feel bad not keeping, I suggest that you take a picture with your child next to the item. Having your child in the picture will make it easier to remember and reminisce. Write on the back of the picture the details of the project. Put the picture in with the rest of the school year items and you are good to go.

I would love to hear which method of storing your child’s school work you like best. Also, do you have a different method that you use to keep track of your child’s work and would like to share? If so, leave a comment below. : )

Until next time,

Kathy McEwan is a professional organizer, moving specialist and owner of Second Set of Hands.

Pile of misc items stored in an unorganized fashion

10 Things You Should Know About Hoarding!

Hoarding can be a very sensitive subject. I noticed when I am working with my disorganized clients who have way to much stuff, if a family member or friend refers to them as a hoarder, they tend to get quite upset, often yelling “I am not a hoarder!” What sets someone who has too much stuff apart from a hoarder? According to the DSM-V (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), 2013 – American Psychiatric Association, lists the following criteria for Hoarding Disorder:

1. Persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value.

2. This difficulty is due to a perceived need to save the items and the distress associated with discarding them.

3. The difficulty discarding possessions results in the accumulation of possessions that congest and clutter active living areas and substantially compromise their intended use.

4. The hoarding causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning (including maintaining a safe environment for self and others).

5. The hoarding is not attributable to another medical condition (e.g., brain injury, cerebrovascular disease, Prader-Willi Syndrome).

6. The hoarding is not better explained by the symptoms of another mental disorder. (1)

clutter - Second Set of Hands

Hoarders often collect items such as bags, papers, magazines etc. that have little value but to them they have significant value and feel that they will need them one day. They continue to keep these items adding more bags, newspapers etc. as well as adding other items which results in their home being full of clutter. Often getting to the point where there is little room to move around in their home and it is not safe for them or for visitors to come over. Isolation and depression can start to take over. The following are additional characteristics of hoarding:

7. Hoarders are not collectors! Collectors take pride in their collections. Often shining them and showing them off. Hoarders are often embarrassed by the way they are living and do not want anyone to see their items.

8. Why do they keep all their items? 1. Sentimental reasons, “my grandmother gave me this” even if it is broken or they have numerous items from their grandmother, 2. Just in case – “I may use this one day for…” 3. Too good to throw out – “Isn’t this so cute?”

9. Hoarding often accompanies other mental health disorders such as OCD, depression, bipolar disorder, and social anxiety.

10. Where do they get all that stuff from? Some hoarders get their items from compulsive shopping, bargain hunting, free samples, side of the road garbage, garbage bins and stealing.

If you know a hoarder or someone that has too much stuff and is feeling overwhelmed, consider being kind, sensitive and suggest that they get help. There are doctors/therapists that specialize in this type of behaviour and professional organizers that will work hands on with disorganized clients and hoarders to help them achieve their goals.

Until next time,

(1) Reference: ICD – Understanding and Helping Aging Clients with Hoarding Disorder, Course Developer and Presenter: Renae Reinardy, Psy.D

Contact Kathy if you have questions regarding letting go of your items. She would be more than happy to help!

Kathy McEwan has a B.A. in Sociology, is a Professional Organizer, Moving Specialist and proud owner of Second Set of Hands.

Kathy McEwan Second Set of Hands

11 Best Time Management Tips for Students

Time Management For Students

Time Management
For Students

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 the ones on their phones while others use the paper based ones. 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 dreams and you will do great!

Until next time,

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

Kathy McEwan

Kathy McEwan

Let It Go Green Road Sign, Business Concept

Learning To Let Go of Your Stuff!

I often get calls from clients saying that they have too much stuff. That they lack space in their homes and because they have too many items, nothing feels organized. Letting go of items can be challenging so here are a few tips on how to take a look at your possessions and decide if you should keep them or let them go.

Would I buy this item today? You are cleaning out your closet and not sure if you should keep that red top that you haven’t worn for ages. Ask yourself if you would buy the item today. If not, out it goes.

Gifts and Sentimental items – You have been passed down rusty knives, cookware and a ring from your grandmother. You don’t use any of them but want to keep them all as a reminder of her. If you don’t use them, then compromise by letting go of some of the items. Perhaps keep the ring as it doesn’t take up much physical space and it may have a better financial value and let go of the knives and cookware.

Take Pictures – You feel bad letting go of gifts or sentimental items that have been passed down to you. If you don’t use them and haven’t looked at them in ages, then take pictures of the items and let them go. You could always print off the pictures and display them in a scrap book or nice photo album for memory sake.

Donate – If you have items that are sitting in your basement, storage area or garage and you don’t use them, consider donating them. It will allow others the opportunity to enjoy your items that you are not using. If you have higher end value items that are taking up space that you really do not need, then perhaps check with your family members to see if they could use them, sell them in a consignment store, or auction etc.

Duplicates – Do you have two or three of the same items? If so, can you make do with just one and let go of the others?

What is it worth? Take a look at the items you are keeping just because you spent a lot for them and ask yourself “what is it worth today?” If you are keeping old computer pieces because you paid a lot for them, chances are you are not going to get a lot of money for them now.

Just in Case – If you are holding on just in case, it almost never happens. Also, consider how much it would cost to replace it. If you are hanging on to several items that cost little to replace, it is worth more to have more space and less clutter than it is to replace an item that cost so little. Especially when there is a good chance you will not need to replace it at all.

One in One Out – If you are considering bringing more items in your home, consider the one in one out rule. For example, if you buy a new top, then pick a top that you have not worn for a year or more and put it in a bag to be donated.

Hope these tips help when it is your turn to make decisions on whether to keep or let go of your items.

Until next time,

Kathy McEwan is a professional organizer, member of the Professional Organizers of Canada and the Institute of Chronic Disorganization. If you would like more information on her organizing and coaching services please contact via or 613.454.5706.

8 Tips for Time Management in the Workplace
Time management

8 Tips for Time Management in the Workplace

Minimize distractions – Do you check your email and go onto social media often throughout the day? What about every time you hear a “bing” on your phone, computer, IPad etc., do you quickly check to see what it is? If so, this could be causing a major interruption in your concentration level and work production. Instead schedule time in your day for checking emails and social media. Perhaps once in the morning, lunch time/afternoon and end of your day.

Start your day by doing an important and productive task – If you start your day by doing a major task, and you get tired later in the day or get busy doing other things that don’t relate to work, then at least you were able to have completed one productive task during the day.

Don’t multi-task – In today’s society we are encouraged to multi-task but whenever possible try to finish one task before going on to another. I know this is hard, especially if you have a boss giving you many tasks to do at one time, but it is proven that multi-tasking causes mistakes to happen and you will be more productive if you put all your attention in one task and complete it before going onto another one.

Confirm Appointments – If you have booked your appointments far in advance, it is best to reach out and confirm your appointments. Nothing worse than battling traffic only to get there and find out the person whom you are meeting has forgotten.

Leave the house, shut the door or use a divider – If you work from home and find you are not getting enough work done, shut your office door to let family members know you are busy, (but don’t forget to open it now and then lol) or leave the house and go to a quiet location. You can try your local coffee shop or try a shared rental office space. Being away from home can mean being more productive! If you work outside your home in a cubicle setting and find staff members coming up and talking to you, ask your manager if you can have a portable divider set up outside your desk area. That will let others know you do not want to be interrupted and will be a reminder for your colleagues to keep their conversations down.

Everything has its place – Whether a staff member has handed something to you to do, or you have come across something you have not done yet, everything should have a home. Don’t let things pile up. Schedule time in your day to file what needs to be filed, have a pending tray or file for items that need to be actioned, make sure supplies are put away etc.

Plan your day the day before – I am not sure why more people don’t do this tip because it really will help you be more productive and save you time! At the end of the day, take 5 minutes to look at your calendar the night before and write down the times of your appointments or meetings. Then write down a few key tasks you would like to accomplish the following day and schedule them around your appointments/meetings. Leave room in your schedule for other tasks that you will end up wanting to do once you are up and at it.

Tidy your desk before leaving!- Whether you work from home or away from home, take a few minutes each day and tidy up your desk at the end of the day. This includes files, pens, stapler, calculator, etc.) If your desk is tidy, you will find your items much faster and be more productive!

Until next time,

Kathy McEwan is a professional organizer and moving specialists who provides hands on organizing help as well as virtual organizing assistance. If you would like more information on her services please contact Kathy at 613.454.5706

Happy Senior Couple In Room with Moving Boxes on the Floor.
11 Tips on How to Downsize with Too Much Stuff!!

“I feel so overwhelmed.” ”I don’t know where to start.” “I like all my stuff.” “My family member is downsizing and he/she has too much stuff.” These are often the comments that I hear from my clients when they call for downsizing help. I understand. I really do. Moving alone is stressful but it is even more overwhelming when you have to move to a smaller place and you have too much stuff and you are not sure what you should keep, or you are attached to your items and don’t want to let them go. Here are a few tips to help you or a family member so you don’t become so overwhelmed.

1. Declutter Early – If it is not too late, the best thing you can do for yourself and your children is to have a clear storage room and basement when it is time to downsize! That may not always be possible, but the less you have the better. Start decluttering a year or two before you plan on moving into a smaller home, and if that is not possible, at the very least, as soon as you start considering the move.

2. A bit at a time – To make it less overwhelming, do a bit at time. Sometimes there are 40 years or more of items to go through so pick a room, a closet, a cupboard and go through the items and decide if they can be donated, recycled, sold, shredded etc.

3. It is all in how you ask – While working with a senior, don’t ask too many questions at once, and try not to ask open ended questions. They get too overwhelmed and confused. Go through the items and pick the best ones and then ask a “Yes” or “No” question. Instead of asking which towels do you want to keep, put together the best facecloths, hand towels, bath towels and tell them you have put aside the best ones and ask if this ok.

4. Let them make decisions – Seniors find moving a challenging and stressful time but it will be less overwhelming for them if they feel they are involved in the process. Let them decide on the items they want to keep. The items may not be new, or what you would want to keep, but if they use the items, and there is room for them, then letting them keep it is ok.

5. Use a floor plan – You can often get a copy of a floor plan from the apartment or assistant living complex. If not draw one out and measure what furniture, mirrors, pictures etc. will fit. While visiting your new home, take measurements and take a good look at the cupboard space and storage space. One problem that I tend to see is that clients think they have more room in their new home then they really have. Moving too much stuff and not having the room for it is not ideal.

6. Let go of multiples – When in a smaller space, you will only need one or two frying pans, set of bed sheets, one pair of slippers, one winter coat, etc.

7. Consignment, Garage Sale, Donation, Auction, Estate, or Garbage? – If it is stained, ripped, chipped or broken, it goes in the garbage or recycle. If you have a lot of high end items, it is a good idea to get them appraised prior to selling them. But keep in mind that there is usually a cost involved having the appraiser come out and a cost to have it appraised, and your items are not worth what you paid for them but what someone is willing to pay for them now. You can put your items in consignment stores which you sometimes get 50% of what they sell it for, but if you have a lot of items, they may not have the room for all of them and they are selective of what they want. With estate or content sales , your items are usually sold in your home with a portion of the sales going to the person holding the sale. This is best to be done after the senior has moved out. Auctioneers work in two ways, they will either come and purchase your items outright and take them away. They later sell the items at their auctions or stores and they keep 100% of what they sell the items for. Or the auctioneer will come and take your items away, put them in their auction and take a percentage of what the items are sold for, and you get the rest. You can have your own Garage Sale or sell some items online and then donate whatever is left over. This method you get to keep 100% of the revenue but is time consuming. I am finding that auctioneers and content sales are becoming more and more popular as it leaves the selling to someone else.

8. At the end of the curb – Prior to garbage day, if you have items that you don’t think the charities will be interested in, but hate to throw it out, try putting it at the curb with a “Free” sign on it. You will be surprised at what some people will take.

9. Don’t hold on to gift giveaways – While working with clients, I often hear “I am going to give this to my daughter”, or “This is my sons”. If so, delegate a space for each person’s belongings and have them pick up their items as soon as possible. The purpose of decluttering is to clear out the house as much as possible.

10. Pictures and Paper – There is usually not enough room to bring all the pictures to a smaller place. Go through the pictures and see if there are any duplicates and ones that you do not remember where they were taken or who is in the picture. Let go of the ones you don’t need anymore. If you still have too many, consider keeping the favorites, and scanning the rest. When it comes to paper, most of it can be shredded or recycled. If it can be found on-line, then you don’t normally need to keep it. Keep the important papers relating to your last 7 years of taxes, birth and death certificates, social insurance cards, marriage license, business license, recent insurance policies and pension documents, mortgage information, vehicle title and loan documents, wills and power of attorney.

11. Ask for help – Downsizing can be emotionally and physically draining. Ask family members or friends to help. If you lack the support you need because your family/friends don’t have the time and energy to help, or they are out of town, consider hiring a professional. Senior Move Managers are there to help every step of the way.

Until next time,

Kathy McEwan is a Professional Organizer, Senior Move Manager, and moving specialist. Her clients are of all ages who could use a seconds set of hands. She is also a member of the Professional Organizers of Canada, the Institute of Chronic Disorganization and has a certificate in Senior Move Management.


Organizing Tips, Buying and Selling Your Home
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.

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 any colour) 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 seasonal clothes and holiday items.

4. Use a planner.

Either electronic or hard copy and start keeping track of all your appointments that you will be having. Also, keep track of all the business cards/phone numbers of the lawyers, real estate agents, handy man etc. and keep them all in one place. If they can be put in your planner, even better. Receipts in regards to selling your home are best to be kept in the planner if possible, or at least, in an envelope or binder and put with the planner.

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 speciality boxes such as wardrobe boxes and dish barrels.

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, contact us. We would be more than happy to help. 613.454.5706

kathy second set of hands organizer 2

7 Tips to Selling Your Home

The majority of homes go up for sale in the Spring!

Spring may not be in the air, but believe it or not, it will be here soon enough.  Did you know that there are only 3 weekends left until spring?

If you are planning on putting your home on the market, here are a few tips to help you get your home ready!

1. Repairs/Paint 

If your home needs minor repairs and a fresh coat of paint, it is wise to invest the money now, prior to putting it on the market. A home will show better, will sell faster and often sells at a higher market value if it is freshly painted, has minor updates and there is no damage showing. Consider changing door handles or cabinet hardware, leaky faucets etc. If you are considering renovations or upgrades, talk to your real estate agent first for his/her recommendation on whether it is worth your investment.

2. Lighting

Your home should show lots of natural light. Open all your curtains and blinds. Replace any old out dated curtains with new ones. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. Replace all old and outdated light fixtures. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on these either. There are lots of low cost stores that sell curtains and light fixtures.

3. Declutter 

This can be very overwhelming but so worth it in the end. Nothing worse than moving into your new home and realizing you do not need half your items.

* Tip 1 – You will save time and money in the long run if you start your decluttering now.

*Tip 2  – A clutter free home will maximize space and showcase the highlights of your home.

While going through your items, make separate piles for keep, donate, consignment, gift away, recycle, shredding, and garbage.

A. Bathrooms – Go through the medicine cabinet and check for expired items. If there are items that do not have an expiry date but have been in the cabinets for over a year, throw them out. Check your shampoos, lotions, soaps, make-up etc. Any items that have been around for a really long time and you don’t think you will use them (expired, no longer use, or tend to use a different brand), let them go. What about hair appliances? Do you have old hair dryers, flat irons lying around?

B. Kitchen – Any appliances or Tupperware that you have not used in over 2 years, you should consider letting go. Go through your appliances, dishes, utensils etc. and decide what you use the most often. Keep only what you need for the next few months and start packing up the rest.When showing your home leave only a couple of items on your counters (ex a fruit basket) and remove everything that is posted on your fridge!

C. Family room/Living room – Start with bookshelves and knickknacks. When selling a home, you only need a handful of books and knickknacks. You don’t want the rooms to look cluttered so remove as much as you can and just leave a few eye catching pieces. Toys? Go through the toys and decide what your children still play with. Let go of the rest. You will be surprised at how much you do not need. When it comes time to show your home, it is always best to put your toys away in containers, off the floors, on shelves or behind closed doors.

D. Bedrooms – If your bedroom has clutter, start decluttering and focus on it being a clean, tidy, bright and a relaxing room. Remove knickknacks and personalized items. Your nightstands and dressers should be cleared with just a couple accent pieces.

E. Closets – Go through your bedroom closet and decide which clothes, purses, scarves, ties, jewelry, shoes, etc. you no longer use or need. If you haven’t used it within a year to two years, time to let it go. Hang similar items together. If you have time, hang pants together, long sleeves sweaters together etc. You can even go so far as to colour code your items by hanging all black short sleeves together, all blue long sleeves together etc. Also, using the same hangers through out is recommended and wooden ones are ideal. *OK, so maybe you don’t have to arrange all your clothes in order to sell a home, but it doesn’t hurt, it sure looks great, and you will love how easy it is to find your items. It will also save you a bunch of time, and will be much easier when you pack and unpack!

Go through your linen closet and decide if you really need all your towels, face clothes, sheets, etc. Do you still use them? Are they stained or ripped? Fold neatly and keep like items together; same size towels together or same colours together, sheets together etc. Continue going through all your closets in your home and declutter!.

*Tip 1For easy to find sheet sets, put fitted sheet, top sheet and one pillow case, inside the other matching pillow case.  

*Tip 2 – Have everything in your closet neat, organized and spread out. It will give the appearance of a larger closet space.


***By decluttering and organizing now, your packing, unpacking and getting settled into your new home will be much easier and faster. Organize your items, put them in containers and label, pack like items together, and unpack and put away in an organized fashion. If you do, you will have a fresh start to an organized and simplified new home and life!

4. Depersonalizing

Buyers want to come into your home and see themselves and their family members living in your home. If you have a lot of family pictures, trophies, collectibles etc., it is best to start packing up your personal belongings as soon as possible. Unfortunately, your home may not feel like your home when you are selling, but it won’t be long and you will be in your new home, organizing, and decorating it to your taste.

5. Furniture

Do you have too much furniture? Maximizing space sometimes involves removing furniture. Also, if your room has too much furniture, clients see furniture, and not the highlights of your home (ex. stunning fireplace). Let go of items you no longer want or need, pack up and remove items (furniture, boxes etc) that you don’t need now but you want to bring with you. You can either put them in storage, have a pod delivered to your home, or if you have the extra space, put them in a storage area in your basement or garage. Not enough furniture? Does your home feel cold and vacant? There are options to make your home feel more warm and staged. Consider buying new or used items (only if you intend on keeping them), or if you can, rearrange the furniture that you do have so that all areas of your home feel warm and inviting. Renting furniture and household items are also an option.

6. Clean 

 I talk a lot about organizing but doing a good cleaning is really important prior to putting your home on the market. Remove all smoke odors and pet odors. I once had to replace my carpet because of my puppy. The things we do for our animals! Clean your windows, baseboards, dust your blinds, make sure your floors, bathrooms and kitchens are clean and sparkly! Everything in your home should be spic and span when it comes time to showing your home.  

7. Exterior

The exterior of your home should be just as inviting as the interior of your home. Once the weather gets nicer, double check your front door and window trim and decide if it needs a fresh coat of paint, add attractive potted flowers, and a clean door mat. Lawns should be kept decluttered, mowed, raked and maintained.


Happy Selling!

Until next time,

****Please check back for more updates or subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss any of  our organizing and decluttering tips and tricks. 


Kathy McEwan



Kathy McEwan, is a professional organizer, a senior move manager (cSMM) and believe it or not, has moved 11 times as an adult. She enjoyed every minute of getting her own homes ready for the market and continues to do so with her clients. You can contact Kathy for weekly moving plans or hands on help at anytime. She is more than happy to help!



Winner Gets an Organized Office in Ottawa with Second Set of Hands!


Happy 2015!

Hope everyone’s New Year is starting off in a healthy and happy way!

Second Set of Hands recently had a contest where we wanted to gift 3 hours of our service to someone in need. This is our way of giving back to the community. After receiving the nominations, we are pleased to report that we did not gift our services to one lucky winner, nor to two, but to 3 lucky winners. It was just too hard to choose! So far, I have had the pleasure of working with one of the winners, and with her permission, here are the before and after pictures!


Office Organizing Before


Office Organization Before


Office Organization After


Office Organization After


This particular client had recently moved into her new home and was thrilled when we were able to transform her office into a functioning, clean, organized space. We won’t take all the credit though, because the after picture is partly her vision too.


When it comes to organizing offices, there are lots to consider. Here are 20 Office Organizing Tips!

  1. Is your office organized, clean, functional, welcoming, and stress-free? If not, you will be more productive if it is!
  2. What systems do you have in place now? What is working for you and what is not?
  3. Do you have items that do not belong in your office? If so, remove and put away in proper spots
  4. Do you have too much paper? If so, can some of this paper be shredded or recycled?
  5. To prevent too much paper, date future papers with removal dates *Shred at year end, recycle at month end etc.
  6. Do you have a systematic filing system? Most important and here is a Quick Tip, Colour Code your file folders!
  7. Do you really need that many supplies? (pens, pencils, markers, erasers, rulers, paper, binders, etc.)
  8. Can you find your files and supplies in 30 seconds or less?
  9. Are you using desktop or drawer organizers to help keep your items organized and easily accessible?
  10. Is your equipment and supplies within close proximity?
  11. Are your items categorized? Are the related items put together? (stamps with envelopes, paper clips, binder clips, tacks, push pins etc. altogether, empty duotangs with empty file folders, pens and pencils close to white-out and erasers)
  12. Do you have a “To Be Filed” folder? If you can’t file right away, then I recommend putting it all in one folder and filing at the end of the week, or sooner if you can. Try not to let it pile up.
  13. Keep a “Pending” folder and be sure to go through it regularly. (every day, every second day, at the end of the week; it will depend on your work load)
  14. Have a “To Be Read” folder handy, rather than having magazines lying around. Another alternative is to scan the articles you would like to read.
  15. Create a Missed Calls Log or Journal and write down and date all your voice mail messages and key points of your conversations. You will have a record of all your calls in one spot to reference back to.
  16. Label, label, Label – Label files, drawers, bins, baskets, shelves etc.
  17. Organize your drawers, bookcases and shelves. Purge by donating and recycling if you can.
  18. Use unusual spaces for storage solutions. Small spaces can sometimes be used for storage shelves with baskets, or another solution for small spaces is floor to ceiling bookshelves.
  19. Furniture with rollers are handy! For example, moving file cabinets is much easier when they role.
  20. Clear your desk and leave just a few essentials at the end of each day.



Organized brown desk

I recently moved into my home and my office is still filled with boxes. I am far from organized and I can relate to how my clients feel, because I feel overwhelmed when I step foot in there. Unpacking and organizing my office is my goal; my project to work on. I think part of my hesitation is because I moved into an older home and I would like to completely renovate that room, but that is not going to happen anytime soon. My kitchen renovation is going to happen first, so in between seeing clients, I might as well tackle my office, and get organized!

Can’t wait because it will be really exciting when it is done!


woman and man unpacking office

What are you doing this year to get organized? Do you have any special projects that you would like to work on? Do you have a basement that needs decluttering? Kitchen cupboards that need to be reorganized? Or like the client above, and myself, do you have an office that you would like to tackle?

Start the New Year off right, and start with one area. You will feel great when it is done!

All the best,



Kathy McEwan is a professional organizer and a Senior Move Manager specialist (cSMM), and owner of Second Set of Hands. If you would like help with organizing, decluttering or downsizing, contact Kathy. or 613-454-5706.


Kathy McEwan, Professional Organizer