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Snow day? Declutter and downsize!

Posted on: February 12th, 2017 by John Odalen No Comments

We’ve had a pretty mild winter here in the Northeast so far, but I’m sure we will get a few big snow storms before the winter is out.   Next storm, use being home bound to your advantage and spend an hour or two decluttering your home. Tackle that closet or room that you have been meaning to get to.  Or take a serious look at your wardrobe.  What can you donate?  Here are some other ideas:

  • Clothes
  • Linens and Towels
  • Kitchen Gadgets
  • Books and CDs/DVDs
  • Desk drawers
  • Children’s toys
  • Utility closet
  • Basement

There are so many areas of the home,  just pick one and dive in.  Then you won’t feel guilty when you spend the rest of the day watching TV.

5 Spring Cleaning Tips to Purge Clutter

Posted on: March 17th, 2016 by John Odalen No Comments

Spring is finally here.  Do you look forward to annual spring cleaning, or dread it?  Or just skip it all together?  Don’t feel overwhelmed. No one says you have to spring clean your entire home in one day or weekend.  Take it in small manageable chunks.

Spring cleaning is a great time to clear out the clutter in your home.  Here are five easy places to start:

  1. Cleaning Products: Before you start spring cleaning, pull out all of your cleaning products and tools. Use what you have before buying new.  When you have finished, evaluate anything you haven’t used, or items that don’t work effectively.  Be brutal and toss what you do not need.
  2. Toiletries, makeup and medicine: Go through everything in your medicine chest, bathroom closet, vanity top and drawers, dresser tops and that one cabinet in the kitchen.  Throw out anything expired.   Beauty and personal care products that you haven’t used in six months, consider tossing.   There is a reason you haven’t used it.    Don’t forget your toiletry travel bag.  (Check out on how to safely dispose of Rx medication.)
  3. Kitchen pantry: Do you have expired food at the back of your kitchen cabinet or pantry?  Or about to expire?  Specialty food you bought on a whim but you know you will never use? Or do you have a dozen cans of chicken stock or three jars of nutmeg because you keep buying not realizing what you have?  A few minutes to review, sort, purge and organize will save you time each day going forward. You’ll be able to see everything you have, you will use what you have and you won’t overbuy.
  4. Desk/Mail: Before you can do a deep clean, you will need to clear off the flat surfaces.  Instead of moving the piles of paper and magazines and catalog to one side just to put them back, take few minutes to review.  Sort into piles:  need action, to file, toss/shred.  You’ll be surprised how large the last pile is.  If you aren’t ready to file, create a “to file” basket for only paperwork that needs saving.  When you have some time, or when the basket fills up, commit to doing the filing.
  5. Wardrobe: Before you pack away your winter clothes, spend an hour reviewing your wardrobe. Are there items you didn’t wear this year?  Anything that is ripped, stained or torn? No longer fits? Decide to only keep the items you truly love, that fit well and look good on you. Picking an outfit in the morning will be much easier. You can donate any clothing in good condition to a local charity and get a tax deduction.

Bonus Tip:  Clutter isn’t limited to physical stuff.  Anything that doesn’t belong can be considered clutter.  Think about your email inbox. Do you get lots of newsletters, advertisements, coupons, etc?  Take a few minutes and unsubscribe from any that are on longer relevant to your life.  Stop them from coming in.  For those already in your inbox, for any that are time sensitive, like retail or restaurant emails, delete all but the most recent one or two.  Most email programs have a search feature that will allow you to filter by sender or subject line and then delete on mass.

Holiday decorations

Posted on: January 2nd, 2016 by John Odalen No Comments

Christmas is over, New Years has come and gone, and it will soon be time to take down the tree, the lights and all the decorations. Before you pack everything away until next year, spend a few minutes and review what you have.  Did you buy new decorations this year? Have you not used certain ones in a few years? Is something out of style? Worn or broken? The end of the season is the best time to purge unused items and downsize your inventory to what you actually use, instead of packing everything way with the intent to deal with it next year. By doing so now, you will gain some storage space and make decorating next year much easier since you won’t have to sort through unused items to find what you really need. And if you need to replace anything, you can plan accordingly, whether you take advantage of an after season clearance sale or shop off season, instead of waiting until next year when everything will be full price.

The value of our stuff – CDs

Posted on: September 8th, 2015 by John Odalen No Comments

For the last few months, I’ve been on a mission to downsize and purge from my house things I do not need.  My latest project has been my CD collection which is huge.   From a collection of many hundreds, I selected about 80 CDs that I haven’t listened to in years and probably will never listen to again.  I brought them to the local used record store that buys used LPs, CDs and DVDs.  I was hoping to get about $1 per disc.   But as I browsed the store while the clerk reviewed my collection, I realized I wouldn’t be getting that much.  Most older, common CDs were selling for $1.99.   They wouldn’t be able to pay me $1 and sell for $1.99 and make enough of profit.   Sure enough, the clerk called me over and said my total was $34.00.  I was slightly disappointed, but only for a bit.  Making money wasn’t the point of this exercise.   My goal was to declutter my house and create space, which I did.   If I wanted to get more money for my CDs, I could have tried selling them on my own on eBay or  But that would take months if not years to sell them all, plus the added effort of packaging and shipping out each sale.  Tossing them in the trash was never an option, as they still have value.  Selling them in bulk was the best option.

The point of this story is that the value of our stuff can be determined in many ways.   It’s a matter of how you look at your stuff.   I saw my CDs as something I once enjoyed and got use of, but are now just taking up space.  I also saw the value of the space I’d gain by purging.   Others may see the original purchase price of $12 or $15 each, which would make purging much more difficult.   When I work with clients, I coach them on how to look at their possessions.   Think about what value the item currently brings you instead of the original cost.    Or how much value have you gotten from the item over the years compared to how much you paid for it.    You will start to see things differently.

Coaching Myself

Posted on: August 21st, 2015 by John Odalen No Comments

I recently had to treat myself as a client to deal with a situation in my kitchen.  You see, I bought a new microwave.  I’ve wanted one for a few years now.  My old one still works, but it was small and not that powerful.  After saving up some gift cards and doing research, I finally decided it was time.  I love the new microwave, but it is bigger than the old one.   My microwave lives inside a large cabinet next to the stove.  I love being able to shut the door and hide the microwave.  And the cabinet is large enough to provide some extra storage.  I used to store cutting boards and sheet pans in the cabinet next to my old microwave, but now there is no room for that.  So I was forced to make some changes.

When it comes to kitchen tools and gadgets, I have a hard time purging.  But I know it must be done from time to time.   In this case, I could have shoved the excess in another cabinet and just lived with it.  But I knew I’d get frustrated by the overflow very soon.    I also could have moved some things around and stored some items in the oven, like many people do.  Again, not for me.

What did I do?   I took all the baking equipment out from one smaller cabinet and the storage drawer under the oven.  Seeing everything together, I decided what I really needed and used versus what I could do without.  And then I packed up what was unneeded and put it in my car with the old microwave to donate to charity.  I didn’t allow myself to really ponder each item.  I went with the facts of how often or when I last used each item.  And I trusted my gut.

The process only took about a half an hour.  And it was well worth it.

Time for a Blog

Posted on: July 24th, 2015 by John Odalen No Comments

Welcome to my first blog post for Organize and Maintain.  I hope you find it inspiring, informative and entertaining.  I’ll be sharing tips on how to get organized and stay organized, links to useful resources, and some relevant stories from my life.