Kathy McWwan Speaking

7 Top Organizing Questions Answered!

My goal is to help you as many people as possible get organized, so here are 7 questions that I have been asked lately. Check them out because they may be answers to your home organizing questions! The questions came from our community members in our Free facebook group Organize for Success,  our clients, and those who attended a recent presentation that I held on 10 Top Organizing Tips that You can Start Doing Today.

1. Leah asked – “I have numerous boxes and bags of paper. I have a small shredder and am always overwhelmed by what to shred and not shred. Taking it somewhere to shred is a good option but not in my budget. Suggestions?”

Basically you should shred anything that has an account number, birth dates, SIN number, passwords, and legal documents. This includes credit card bills, bank statements and old cheques, copies of your resume, out-dated insurance policies, previous mortgage documentation etc.

If you have a lot of documents to shred, then you can call a shredding company to come and pick them up. If cost is a factor for you, then check your local area shredding companies and see if they have any community days where they will take boxes of shredding and only ask for a donation. I live in Ottawa and we have a company called Shred-it and they have community days on every second Saturday of the month where you can bring up to 5 bankers boxes of shredding and they only ask for a donation to the cancer foundation. They also shred it right in front of you.

If your area doesn’t have a community shred it day, then take 20 mins a day and use your shredder and shred away. If you take 20 mins a day, that adds up to over 2 hours a week and you can get a lot of shredding done in 2 hours. Once you have all your shredding caught up, then don’t get in the habit of letting it pile up again. Schedule time in your calendar to do your shredding.

2. Lise asks “What is the best way to organize clothes? Pants together, tops together, skirts together, or matching pants and tops together, everything by colour etc?”Let’s talk about putting matching items together. That is a great idea if you only use those items together. If so, then hang a top and matching pants and jacket together so it is quick and easy. If you don’t always wear those items together, then I wouldn’t keep them together. Instead I would suggest hanging like items together –categorize each type of clothing ex. sleeveless blouses, short sleeve blouses, long blouses, pants, skirts, dresses etc.

After they are categorized, then have them colour coded so they are easy to find. I would also recommend using slim style hangers as they look nice and take up less room than the large plastic or wooden hangers.

3. Lise also asked – “My sewing room is overwhelmed with fabric, different textures, various colours, plain, printed etc. What is the best way to organize the fabric?”I have to be honest here, I am not a sewer and I don’t have a sewing room in my home, but we do help others who do, and I have staff members that do have sewing rooms so they are actually better at organizing them then I am.

We are actually finishing up with a client right now who has a sewing business and has an amazing sewing room. Her problem was that she was not being as productive as she wanted because she wasn’t sure the best way to store her fabric and other supplies.

Basically what the staff did was create a system that worked best for our client. They put all like items together, put items that she used regularly close by and folded the fabric using fabric boards and had all the fabric standing up. And of course, they arranged them by colour. For example, but all pink plain fabric together and beside they put pink printed fabric. They also made everything as visible as possible so it would be easy to grab when you need it.

4. Jenn – How are you trained? Is there any overseeing body such as a law society? Great question. There is no overseeing body for Professional Organizers. Anyone can decide they want to be a professional home organizer and they don’t really have to have any credentials. However, I would recommend all professional organizers have training.

There are associations that represent Professional Organizers that are membership based and have training. In Canada, it is the Professional Organizers in Canada (POC). In the U.S. there is Napo, National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals, and you can also take courses with the Institute of Challenging Disorganization (ICD). There are many on-line courses of home organizing you can take, with various companies but I don’t know how good they are because I can only speak on what I have taken.

The credentials which I think has contributed to my knowledge and understanding of those with clutter or hoarding is – My Degree in Sociology with an emphasis in Psychology. I also have certificates in ADHD, Chronic Disorganization, Time Management and productivity – and those are with the Institute of Challenging Disorganization (ICD). I have also taken many courses with Professional Organizers in Canada (POC), and I have a certificate in Senior Move management. But that is not all. I am also a Certified Professional Organizer, and to obtain this certificate, I had to have 1500 hours of working with a client in home or office organizing before I qualified to take the exam. It is an accredited certificate with Napo.

5. Michele asks –” What are the Steps to getting Organized? Is it 1. Get rid of garbage, 2 sort, 3, declutter, 4 like with like and is 5 put away?”

  • The first step is to grab a garbage bag/bin and recycle bins and bring it to the room you are going to start organizing.
  • Next step is to Sort – Ex organizing a junk drawer. You take everything out and start sorting and when you are sorting you are putting like items with like items. Put all batteries together, all pens together, all paper together etc. While you are sorting and putting like items together, if you find garbage or recyclables, put it in the garbage or recycle bin right away. If you find items that don’t belong in that drawer, then put it aside to be put into the proper homes.
  • After sorting is done, it is time to declutter – mind you, when you threw things in the garbage, you were decluttering as well. But this step is the where you decide what to keep and what not to. Now that it is sorted, it is easier for you to see what you have. For example, If you have 15 pens, do you really need 15 pens? If not, let some go!
  • Last step is to put everything away organized. Sometimes organizing products come in handy. For a junk drawer, drawer organizers are awesome! It is an easy way to keep like items contained in one area. It is also much easier for you to put things away because you have a spot for them. Easy peasy!

6. Cathy asked – “What should I do with all my photos and photo albums? I have so many!”

If you come from a generation of having a ton of photos and photo albums, I suggest that you start by taking the photos out of the albums and let go of any photos that are blurry, are duplicate. have people in them that you don’t remember or don’t like anymore. Let them all go.When it comes to storing your photos, if you have a lot of photo albums and it is taking up too much space in your home, let the albums go as well. Store your photos in a photo box or container.  Or you can scan them to your computer.

Some people still like to be able to pick up photos and look at them so scanning may not work for them. If so, there are great photo organizers available that can store hundreds of photos and take up little space. I recommend the Novelinks Photo Case 4″ x 6″ Photo Box Storage that holds individual small plastic containers that fit 4×6 photos. In one small container it holds about 100 photos. The case comes in two sizes, one holds 8 containers and the other one holds 16 containers. That means in a small to medium sized carry case, you can have up to 1600 photos.

The only thing is that when storing photos it is best to used acid free boxes. I would not recommend using the plastic case I mentioned for heritage type photos that are really old. But for those 4×6 photos that people bought back in the day, I think they should be fine. I have had mine in there for years and I do not see any damage with the photos.  There are other photo storage options that are available as well. I don’t have time to go through them all today but you could probably google photo storage and find other options if the carrying case style is not for you.

7. My mother passed away and I ended up with all her stuff. What do I do with it? The first thing I would do is start sorting through the boxes and deciding if you want to keep the items or let them go. When deciding on what to keep and what not to, take into consideration, do I love this item? Would I display this item? Don’t focus on the memory of the item as much as if you like it or not. In other words, don’t focus on, oh my mother made this for me when I was a child.

The memory does not have to go away, but the item might have to go away. Because we usually can’t keep everything that was passed down to us. Instead take a picture of the item so you can look about and remember that time your mother made you something when you were a child, and let it go if you don’t want to display it. Having items sitting in a box in your basement is not doing any good. If it can be donateable, then let someone else use it since you are not using it.

If there are a lot of items and you think they could be sold, then you can have an estate sale, or an online auction. Online auctions are quite popular now. Normally you need about 40 lots to have a sale. A dresser would be a lot and 3 small pictures can be a lot. Max-Sold holds online auctions and they are quite popular these days.

If you have a couple of items and you think they may be antique, then you can reach out to an antique dealer and ask them if they would be interested in purchasing the items. Often they ask that you send them a picture of the items with details about the items and they will let you know if it is antique and if there are interested in buying it.You can always have an appraisal done on items as well to help determine their value. There is normally a cost associated with appraisals.

Until next time,Kathy

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