Posts Tagged ‘space organizing’

A Faster Way To Clean Out

Cleaning out is often exhausting work — especially for those who haven't done it in a while. It's easy to walk into a room filled with clutter and become completely overloaded by the task at hand. You try to empty the whole space at once, don't even come close to finishing it all, and end up feeling like a failure  — will you ever be able to see the floor again? Rather than overdoing it (and subsequently paralyzing yourself with frustration and despair), why not set yourself up for success — by tackling just one small pile at a time? If you simply make use of those odd free moments (say, two or three times a day, every day for a week) — you will make a bigger dent in the mess than if you devoted your entire Saturday to sifting and sorting and cleaning out!

  • start a box of items to donate — every time you find something you don't need, toss it in
  • check your desk for dried up pens and markers and throw them out
  • sort through your Tupperware and remove any bowl or lid that's missing it's mate
  • try on clothes you haven't worn in the past year and get rid of anything that doesn't fit
  • gather up a pile of library books / rented videos and return them from whence they came
  • look through your shelves and pull books you'll never read again to donate to the library
  • clean the trash out of your junk drawer
  • remove the extra empty hangers out of your closet and take them to your dry cleaner
  • get rid of old or yucky makeup in your cosmetic drawer
  • put all those purchases you've been meaning to return in a box and schedule an errand day
  • pull out any torn / worn underwear and socks — either turn into rags or discard
  • toss empty bottles of household cleaners, car care items, and gardening chemicals in the garage
  • go through your magazines / catalogs and toss all but the most recent issue
  • throw out expired food from your refrigerator and pantry
  • sort through your recipes and toss those you're never going to get around to making
  • when you unpack your holiday decorations, discard broken ornaments, lights, candles, etc.
  • create a pile of borrowed items to give back to your friends and family
  • clean out batteries and light bulbs that no longer work
  • toss expired items, empty bottles, and used-up grooming supplies in your medicine cabinet
  • put all your “donates” in the car and drive them to the nearest charity drop-off point — now!

See how easy that was? Wink

Advertising Your Sale

Many people don't realize that you can't just put a pile of junk in your yard, slap up a bunch of signs, and hold a yard sale — many areas have specific rules and regulations about the size, location, traffic flow, and advertising of sales. To be on the safe side, you should call your city or county government for a listing of local yard sale regulations BEFORE you get too deep into your preparations. In particular, be sure to find out about “signage” rules governing the size, shape, and placement of billboards or signs. Also ask whether or not you need to obtain a permit to hold a yard sale in your area. You don't want the cops shutting you down mid-sale because you didn't follow the rules!

Whether you live on a main road or in the middle of nowhere, it'simportant to put out directional signs for your sale. You never knowhow many “casual” shoppers you will attract who were simply driving byand saw your advertisement. Put posterboard signs at major intersections andalong your road — and always include an easy to read streetaddress, hours of operation, and  an arrow pointing folks in the right direction. You may alsowant to put up fliers in local stores, laundromats, and churches. These give you a bit more space to list major items ofinterest.

Most dedicated “yard-salers” check the newspaper listings to plan their route of attack — so you definitely need to be included in the lineup. Call your local paper for prices and deadlines, and don't forget to check with “free” and community papers as well. When placing your ad, include the date, time, address, and directions (if you live in a hard-to-find area). You may also want to make note of any expensive or unique or high-demand merchandise you will be offering. Plan to run your ad at least one day before and the day of your sale — much more than that really isn't necessary. And keep in mind that advertising is usually priced by the letter or the word. Don't list every type of item you plan to sell — folks know that yard sales have books and household items and clothes.

Involving Other People

The bigger the offerings, the more customers you will attract. Many times a multi-family, neighborhood, or group yard sale is larger than the sum of its parts.  Put together a fundraiser for your church, scout troop, school, or community organization. Or ask your friends, neighbors, and family to join in, suggesting that you all pool your items together into one large sale. If the profits aren't going into a common pot, have each participant mark his or her items with a different colored pen or different type of sticker or their initials by the price — so that you can distinguish whose item is whose. Keep track of each person's sales in a notebook, with a running list of items sold (or just the price) under each name.

It can be very difficult (almost impossible) to run a yard salecompletely on your own — so don't be afraid to ask for someassistance. Recruit several helpers — friends or family — and bribethem with pizza and sodas at the end of the sale. You should have atleast 2 people signed on to stay the length of the sale, or more ifthey can only help you throughout part of the day. You may needextra assistants right at the start of the first day when things arebusiest, fewer later on. Most importantly, educate your helpers about your pricing and willingness tonegotiate so they can assist customers without having to ask for yourinput. And finally, make arrangements ahead of time for a charity topick up your leftovers at the end of your sale.

Gathering Your Supplies

What will you need to run your sale? “Display” items (tables, racks, table cloths, hangers, etc.) — “checkout” items (cash box, extra bags, tissue/newspaper, etc.) — and “try-before-you-buy” items (extension cords, batteries, bulbs). Then turn your attention to the money — there is nothing more frustrating than running out of change in the first hour. Be sure to get enough to last you through the day — that means at least $20 in coins, $50 in ones, and $40 in fives. Also create a list of minimum prices you will accept for each item — so when a shopper asks your friend who is helping out if they will take $10 for your lawnmower, they can handle the situation without having to find you.

Setting Up

The best way to get ready for a yard sale is to sort your merchandiseas you clean out (rather than creating a pile of discards and having togo through it a second time later on). While you're purging your home, divide items into meaningfulcategories (such as kitchen, books, kids, clothes) and have a largebox or trash bag set aside for each category. Check each object to see whether or not it works, if it's missing any parts — then clean andrepair anything that needs a little TLC. You will also want to price items as you go and labelthem with a description (when applicable).

But you have to remember that planning a yard sale layout involves more than just laying out all of your merchandise on the lawn. The first goal is to make sure that nothing is blocking your traffic flow — you don't want a sales area so clogged with people that no one can get around or see what you have on display. Secondly, be sure to display like items and complementary items together. It will be easier for people to shop if you set up “departments,” with all the household items are on this table and all the books are together in these boxes. Put any valuable items that you don't want to “wander off” in a closed case or right at the checkout table. Finally, make sure everything is clearly visible. Some shoppers like to dig, but most people “glance” their way through a yard sale — scanning tables and floor displays for something that catches their eye.

The simplest way to avoid confusion and conflict during your sale is todecide how you plan to run it — ahead of time. Determine the length ofyour sale — the number of days and hours each day. Also decide if youwill accept personal checks or put items “on hold” for people who saythey are coming back later. And finally, make up your mind in advanceif you will allow early birds or let people in your home (to use thebathroom or phone). Most importantly, once you have put a policy inplace, stick with it!

Leading Up To The Sale

The week before the sale is the time to get ready. Put up fliers in public areas around town and place your newspaper ad. Gather your supplies, get change, and confirm times with your “helpers”. You should be done pricing and organizing your merchandise by now — but if not, finish any last-minute labeling. A day or two before the sale, put up directional signs around your neighborhood. But don't do it too soon or you risk your signs being blown down or rained on. Block off any areas you don't want shoppers to enter — especially if you plan to hold your sale in your garage, basement, or interior of your home. And finally, get a good night's sleep — you'll need it!
On the day of the sale, you will want to start setting up 1-2 hours before your sale is scheduled to start. When the shoppers arrive, put one person in charge of cash box — never let them leave it unguarded. And most of all, have fun — let your kids sell snacks and play some peppy music! Just think of what a load is being lifted — and how much extra cash you'll have at the end!

A Not-So-Fine Line

This is what Nate had to say — “Here's the difference between a collector, which I consider myself, and a hoarder: A collector has no shame involved. It doesn't keep you from having people over. It doesn't impede anything in your life. In fact, it enhances it, because it's so fun to keep looking for the collection.”

My response is “maybe.” My mother considered herself a “collector,” but that didn't make my life any easier when I had to clean out her house after she died. Perhaps the difference has less to do with shame and more to do with focus.

I think true collectors focus in on one or two things they love to accumulate, while hoarders keep lots of everything — collectors seem to have more of a plan or a goal when they acquire something, while hoarders do not — collectors also care about what will happen to their collections (passing them on to someone who will value them), and hoarders definitely don't. It seems as though everyone in the organizing community has a different take on hoarding. There's even talk of making it an officially classifiable mental illness. Check out the proposed DSM-5 criteria:

  • persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of the value others may attribute to these possessions (this difficulty is due to strong urges to save items and/or distress associated with discarding)
  • the symptoms result in the accumulation of a large number of possessions that fill up and clutter active living areas of the home or workplace to the extent that their intended use is no longer possible — if all living areas are uncluttered, it is only because of the interventions of third parties (e.g., family members, cleaners, authorities)
  • the symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (including maintaining a safe environment for self and others)
  • the hoarding symptoms are not due to a general medical condition (e.g., brain injury, cerebrovascular disease)
  • the hoarding symptoms are not restricted to the symptoms of another mental disorder (e.g., hoarding due to obsessions in obsessive-compulsive disorder, decreased energy in major depressive disorder, delusions in schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder, cognitive deficits in dementia, restricted interests in autism spectrum disorder, food storing in Prader-Willi syndrome)
  • specify if “with excessive acquisition” if symptoms are accompanied by excessive collecting or buying or stealing of items that are not needed or for which there is no available space

That defines the behavior, but it doesn't look at the reasons behind it. So I asked my colleagues to share their thoughts about where hoarding came from — I've summarized and paraphrased their responses:

  • “hoarders tend to define themselves by the objects they own, while collectors do not”
  • “collectors tend to keep their collection in a way that keeps themselves and those items 'safe,' while hoarders do not take safety into account”
  • “hoarding is just collecting that has gotten out of control”
  • “collections are confined and contained, while hoarding occurs in random piles that eventually end up taking over”
  • “collections are organized — hoarding is when there is so much that it can not be located”
  • “collectors see the world as full of abundance and celebrate that — hoarders experienced lack in their life and feel they need to keep everything because they might need it someday”
  • “hoarders feel they are less of a person without their things — collector keep themselves separate from their things”
  • “hoarders accumulate items to boost their self-esteem, while collectors create something that can be admired and possibly have financial value”
  • “collectors have a healthy emotional attachment to their stuff (it makes them feel good), but hoarders have an unhealthy attachment (it makes them feel bad”
  • “collecting improves quality of life, but hoarding deteriorates quality of life (income, relationships, peace of mind)”
  • “collectors choose one or two categories of items to collect (carousel horses, hummels, first editions, etc.), while hoarders keep anything and everything”
  • “collectors become attached to things of value — hoarders become attached to what is essentially trash (newspapers, recyclables, string, used aluminum foil, butter tubs, spoiled food, etc.)”
  • “collectors accumulate out of love, hoarders accumulate out of fear”
  • “collectors choose to collect, while hoarders are driven by compulsion”
  • “hoarders often hide their accumulations away, while collectors display theirs with pride”
  • “collectors look for unique additions to their collection, but hoarders will accumulate numerous identical or duplicate items”
  • “collectors enjoy sharing their collections with others — hoarders find that eventually their obsession with 'stuff' alienates their friends and family”
  • “collectors get a positive sense of satisfaction when they add to their collection — hoarders are simply trying to alleviate negative feelings (anxiety, inadequacy, worry, pain, etc.)”
  • “collectors recognize when their collections have become unmanageable and do something about it — hoarders live in denial”
  • “collectors still insist on a functional living and working space, while hoarders are willing to sacrifice this for their 'stuff'”
  • “collectors only add new items when they feel it will enhance the collection — hoarders can't resist the urge to constantly acquire more”
  • “hoarders refuse to part with anything they own, while collectors are often willing to sell portions of their collection if the right price/buyer comes along”
  • “hoarders can't tell the difference between what is valuable and what is not — collectors understand very clearly the value of the items they own”
  • “collectors honor their collections, while hoarders have a less respectful relationship with their 'stuff'”
  •  “collectors will stop collecting when they feel they have enough, but hoarders never feel they have enough”
  • “collectors will get rid of a collection if they tire of it — hoarders feel compelled to continue accumulating even when doing so loses its joy”
  • “collectors can draw healthy boundaries around their collecting activities, while hoarders are obsessed”
  • “collectors create conscious themes with their collections, while hoarders experience an uncontrollable pile-up of random things”
  • “hoarders value things over relationships, while collectors keep their things in perspective as secondary to the people in their lives”
  • “collectors can trade or sell their collectibles — the things hoarders accumulate are only valuable to them”
  • “collectors pay very close attention to their collections, while hoarders often allow their 'stuff' to languish unused and serving no purpose for years”
  • “collectors take very good care of their things — hoarders let their belongings rot and decay and go bad”
  • “collectors take into account their space restraints and are constantly making room for new items, while hoarders just pile more on top of what is already there”

What do you think — where should we draw the line between collecting and hoarding?

The Keepers

The first step toward cleaning out the clutter is recognizing that not everything is a keeper! Even those things that used to be keepers can slide into the “Get Rid Of” category without you realizing it. “Keep” is only meant for items that you have defined as CURRENTLY beautiful, useful, or loved. Deciding which items are “Keep's” should be fairly obvious — if you use it all the time or consider it a cherished memento, that's a “Keep.” You may even want to have several boxes of “Keep's” — each box labeled for a different area in your house. That way, you can take all of your “Kitchen Keeps” and “Bedroom Keeps” and “Basement Keeps” to their respective homes without making 30 different trips.

You may locate a few stray objectsthat are missing a part or in need of an accessory. Of course, youwould be perfectly happy to use these items — if you only had thoseessential lost components. Put these fabulous finds into a box labeled”need to buy,” and make a list of all the parts and pieces you arelooking for. Then you can take the list with you on your next shoppingtrip. You can do the same with any object that requires modification or repairbefore it can be used. But set a time limit — if you don't get an item in functional workingorder by your deadline, it gets moved to the “Get Rid Of” pile.

You can also create a space for unfinished projects that you still intend to tackle. However, this box is not meant to be a graveyard for past guilt. Askyourself if each task is still as meaningful as when you first beganworking on it. Macramé potholders may have sounded like a good idea 10years ago, but now? It's okay to admit that you will never write thegreat American novel. You're not going to hell if you decide that tennis just isn't for you anymore. I hereby grant you permission to let go ofoutdated interests, and to focus on activities that bring you joytoday. And if it sits in the project box for more than a couple ofmonths, it's out of here!

Get Rid Of

This box is for those objects that you are certain you don't want any more. Oh no — you have to make a decision?  Whatever will you do! I know the concept is frightening, but what I'm asking really should not be that hard — you ought to be able to look at a broken lamp or an old book you haven't read in 20 years or a pair of pants that will never fit you again and know that it serves no purpose in your life (if not, we've got much bigger issues to tackle than disorganization!) Remember, we're only looking for those items that you can immediately identify as clutter — ones that don't require a lot of thought or deliberation. Of course, you may want to break “Get Rid Of” into some smaller categories — such as “Throw Away” for the trash, “Give Away” for those things you would like to donate, and a even a “Sell” box for anything you think might be worth money.

You're also going to find some “Get Rid Of's” that aren't even your responsibility. If you are like every other person on this planet, you probably havecustody of at least one item does not belong to you. These orphanedsouls create a sense of guilt, of incompleteness, and of loose ends tobe tied up. How freeing would it be to rid yourself of other people'sclutter? Let's put these in a box labeled “To Return,” and then schedule time to get them back to their respective homes. I promise that — once youhave freed yourself of everything that doesn't belong to you, serve a purpose in your life, or mean anything to you –you will find it much easier to organize the rest. And you will havetaken a tremendous weight off of your shoulders — the weight ofunnecessary clutter. Just be sure to go through this process at leastonce a year to keep the piles trimmed back!

Not Sure

While I would love (in a perfect world) for you to be quick and decisive about each item, I realize that you are going to run across a few things that stump you. I give you permission to label these as “Not Sure.” That having been said, it's best if you can try to keep the “Not Sure's” to a minimum. This box is supposed to be for belongings that you can't rationally justify keeping — but some gut feeling won't let you part with them yet. Remember, your “Not Sure Box” isn't a dumping ground for things that you just don't want to take the time to think about. The last thing we want to do is ask the same questions about the same objects over and over again. Try your very best to make a solid “yes or no” decision about your belongings the first time that you pick them up.

If you honestly can't decide what to do with an item, put it in “Not Sure.” When your box is full, tape it shut and label it. Make sure you list the contents (kitchenware, books, clothing), the date you packed it away, and any special storage instructions on the outside. Then, I want you to stash this box in the garage, attic, or basement — some place out of the way. Trust me on this one. I actively want you to forget about this stuff for a while. Just make sure that you put your box where its contents won't get ruined (that means, don't place something that will melt in an attic without air conditioning!)

Make a note in your calendar (you are using a calendar, right?) to check back in 6 to 12 months. If, during that time, you haven't needed anything out of your box, it will be a lot easier to let go of those “Not Sure's.” If you still can't part with an item, that might be a hint that it is more beloved than you first thought. Either way, this will help you make a final decision about what to keep!

Advertising Your Sale

Many people don't realize that you can't just put a pile of junk in your yard, slap up a bunch of signs, and hold a yard sale — many areas have specific rules and regulations about the size, location, traffic flow, and advertising of sales. To be on the safe side, you should call your city or county government for a listing of local yard sale regulations BEFORE you get too deep into your preparations. In particular, be sure to find out about “signage” rules governing the size, shape, and placement of billboards or signs. Also ask whether or not you need to obtain a permit to hold a yard sale in your area. You don't want the cops shutting you down mid-sale because you didn't follow the rules!

Whether you live on a main road or in the middle of nowhere, it'simportant to put out directional signs for your sale. You never knowhow many “casual” shoppers you will attract who were simply driving byand saw your advertisement. Put posterboard signs at major intersections andalong your road — and always include an easy to read streetaddress, hours of operation, and  an arrow pointing folks in the right direction. You may alsowant to put up fliers in local stores, laundromats, and churches. These give you a bit more space to list major items ofinterest.

Most dedicated “yard-salers” check the newspaper listings to plan their route of attack — so you definitely need to be included in the lineup. Call your local paper for prices and deadlines, and don't forget to check with “free” and community papers as well. When placing your ad, include the date, time, address, and directions (if you live in a hard-to-find area). You may also want to make note of any expensive or unique or high-demand merchandise you will be offering. Plan to run your ad at least one day before and the day of your sale — much more than that really isn't necessary. And keep in mind that advertising is usually priced by the letter or the word. Don't list every type of item you plan to sell — folks know that yard sales have books and household items and clothes.

Involving Other People

The bigger the offerings, the more customers you will attract. Many times a multi-family, neighborhood, or group yard sale is larger than the sum of its parts.  Put together a fundraiser for your church, scout troop, school, or community organization. Or ask your friends, neighbors, and family to join in, suggesting that you all pool your items together into one large sale. If the profits aren't going into a common pot, have each participant mark his or her items with a different colored pen or different type of sticker or their initials by the price — so that you can distinguish whose item is whose. Keep track of each person's sales in a notebook, with a running list of items sold (or just the price) under each name.

It can be very difficult (almost impossible) to run a yard salecompletely on your own — so don't be afraid to ask for someassistance. Recruit several helpers — friends or family — and bribethem with pizza and sodas at the end of the sale. You should have atleast 2 people signed on to stay the length of the sale, or more ifthey can only help you throughout part of the day. You may needextra assistants right at the start of the first day when things arebusiest, fewer later on. Most importantly, educate your helpers about your pricing and willingness tonegotiate so they can assist customers without having to ask for yourinput. And finally, make arrangements ahead of time for a charity topick up your leftovers at the end of your sale.

Gathering Your Supplies

What will you need to run your sale? “Display” items (tables, racks, table cloths, hangers, etc.) — “checkout” items (cash box, extra bags, tissue/newspaper, etc.) — and “try-before-you-buy” items (extension cords, batteries, bulbs). Then turn your attention to the money — there is nothing more frustrating than running out of change in the first hour. Be sure to get enough to last you through the day — that means at least $20 in coins, $50 in ones, and $40 in fives. Also create a list of minimum prices you will accept for each item — so when a shopper asks your friend who is helping out if they will take $10 for your lawnmower, they can handle the situation without having to find you.

Setting Up

The best way to get ready for a yard sale is to sort your merchandiseas you clean out (rather than creating a pile of discards and having togo through it a second time later on). While you're purging your home, divide items into meaningfulcategories (such as kitchen, books, kids, clothes) and have a largebox or trash bag set aside for each category. Check each object to see whether or not it works, if it's missing any parts — then clean andrepair anything that needs a little TLC. You will also want to price items as you go and labelthem with a description (when applicable).

But you have to remember that planning a yard sale layout involves more than just laying out all of your merchandise on the lawn. The first goal is to make sure that nothing is blocking your traffic flow — you don't want a sales area so clogged with people that no one can get around or see what you have on display. Secondly, be sure to display like items and complementary items together. It will be easier for people to shop if you set up “departments,” with all the household items are on this table and all the books are together in these boxes. Put any valuable items that you don't want to “wander off” in a closed case or right at the checkout table. Finally, make sure everything is clearly visible. Some shoppers like to dig, but most people “glance” their way through a yard sale — scanning tables and floor displays for something that catches their eye.

The simplest way to avoid confusion and conflict during your sale is todecide how you plan to run it — ahead of time. Determine the length ofyour sale — the number of days and hours each day. Also decide if youwill accept personal checks or put items “on hold” for people who saythey are coming back later. And finally, make up your mind in advanceif you will allow early birds or let people in your home (to use thebathroom or phone). Most importantly, once you have put a policy inplace, stick with it!

Leading Up To The Sale

The week before the sale is the time to get ready. Put up fliers in public areas around town and place your newspaper ad. Gather your supplies, get change, and confirm times with your “helpers”. You should be done pricing and organizing your merchandise by now — but if not, finish any last-minute labeling. A day or two before the sale, put up directional signs around your neighborhood. But don't do it too soon or you risk your signs being blown down or rained on. Block off any areas you don't want shoppers to enter — especially if you plan to hold your sale in your garage, basement, or interior of your home. And finally, get a good night's sleep — you'll need it!
On the day of the sale, you will want to start setting up 1-2 hours before your sale is scheduled to start. When the shoppers arrive, put one person in charge of cash box — never let them leave it unguarded. And most of all, have fun — let your kids sell snacks and play some peppy music! Just think of what a load is being lifted — and how much extra cash you'll have at the end!