Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sarah Buckwalter on TLC's Hoarding: Buried Alive

Episode: “The Scariest Place on Earth”.
Tune in to TLC on Sunday, September 26th at 8:00pm to watch Sarah Buckwalter transform a hoarding disaster zone into
a clean, comfortable home.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Signs and Symptoms of Hoarding

People who hoard have a compulsion to store and hide away items that eventually take over their lives. This is known as OCHD (Obsessive Compulsive Hoarding Disorder).

Hoarding affects emotions, thoughts and behavior. The Mayo Clinic says, "People who hoard often don't see it as a problem, making treatment challenging."

In the homes of people who engage in compulsive hoarding, countertops, sinks, stoves, desks, stairways and virtually all other surfaces are usually stacked with stuff. And when there's no more room inside, the clutter may spread to the garage, vehicles and yard.

Signs and symptoms of hoarding may include:
  • Cluttered living spaces
  • Inability to discard items
  • Keeping stacks of newspapers, magazines or junk mail
  • Moving items from one pile to another, without discarding anything
  • Acquiring unneeded or seemingly useless items, including trash
  • Difficulty managing daily activities, including procrastination and trouble making decisions
  • Difficulty organizing items
  • Perfectionism
  • Excessive attachment to possessions, and discomfort letting others touch or borrow possessions
  • Limited or no social interactions

People who engage in hoarding typically collect items because they believe these items will be needed or have value in the future. A person also may hoard items that he or she feels have important emotional significance - serving as a reminder of happier times, for example, or representing beloved people or pets. People who hoard may report feeling safer when surrounded by the things they collect.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sarah Buckwalter on TLC's Hoarding: Buried Alive

Tune in on Sunday, September 19th at 9:00pm EST to watch Sarah Buckwalter transform a hoarding disaster zone into a clean, comfortable home.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Just Get It Done!

Happy Monday! The fall weather seems to be here in Boston. Just like in spring-time, getting back to the fall routine and thinking about getting your house, yard and storage spaces ready to keep everything safe and warm for the upcoming seasons, fall seems to bring a renewed urge to get things done around the house. If you’re like most people, you have an on-going ‘unfinished project list’ (even if it’s not actually a list). Today’s time-saving tip is in the spirit of just getting things done...

Time-Saving Tip #9: If it’s only going to take a few minutes, just do it!

Sometimes we waste a lot of time thinking about what to do next - this applies at home and at work. Most of the time, we would feel a lot better (and get more done), if we just channelled our inner Nike and ‘just did it.’ Getting things done tends to build momentum. So open the pile of mail, take the trash out, put the donation items in your car, make that phone call. You get the idea. Those small household and work tasks can weigh us down when they start to multiply. Keep them at bay by keeping up with them. Try to schedule yourself 15-30 minutes daily just to tackle some of those little unfinished projects before they turn into permanent fixtures on your unfinished project list. I’ll admit, I’ve got a few of those on my list, so let’s all start a productive week and just get it done...whatever it is!

Bottom line: Tackle those small projects before they add up with just 15 minutes a day of ‘getting it done.’

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fall into Organization with a ‘Playbook’ for Your Team

Hopefully you enjoyed a relaxing and recharging holiday weekend spending time with family and friends. Now that school is back in session and work is in full swing after the summer vacation season, fall is the perfect time to get your household routines and family schedules in line.

Time-Saving Tip #8: Streamline your routine with a simple household binder.
All you need is a small binder- use a spare one you have around or try these eco-friendly binders from greenroom, available at Target - some sheet protectors or a 3-hole punch, and some dividers. Simply hole-punch (or slip into sheet protectors) all those important papers, schedules, pieces of information that might otherwise get lost in a pile on the kitchen counter. This might include extracurricular or daycare schedules, important contact info, including babysitters, tutors, and coaches, upcoming events, and more. You can even step it up a notch and include a family chore chart, a master calendar or extra features like lunch-box ideas so these tasks can easily be shared among family members or helpers. Use the dividers to separate types of information or create a section for each family member - you can customize your binder to meet your family’s needs.

Get everyone involved in the binder - gathering information, deciding on what to call it, and most importantly, where it will live. If everyone in your house knows about the binder, you stand a fighting chance of being on the same page. Now wouldn’t that be nice?!

Bottom Line: Create a simple household binder as a place to store and organize your family’s activities and you’ll have your playbook prepped for a winning team!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Organizing Obstacles

Let’s face it: clutter happens. The cure for clutter requires knowing why it happened in the first place and coming up with solutions and prevention strategies tailored to your clutter causes. Real Simple has a great article, The Top 6 Excuses for Clutter, that walks through 6 common clutter causes and what to do about them.

The 6 major clutter culprits reviewed are:

1) Guilt - “My best friend gave this to me, so I feel guilty getting rid of it.”
2) Perceived Value - “I am planning to sell this someday.”
3) Saving for the Future - “I might need this someday.”
4) Donation Delay - “I want to make sure this will go to someone who really needs it.”
5) Out of Site, Out of Mind - “If I put this away, I’ll never remember to do it.”
6) Inertia - “I want to get organized, but I just don’t know where to begin.”

Check out the article for some great ideas for overcoming these barriers. I see all of these obstacles when I work with people, but I think number 3 is a big culprit. Accumulating stuff is so easy and it can be really challenging for people to get rid of items that they perceive to be useful and that they might need someday. This might be back-up items of things you already own (i.e. extra towels) or items for an activity that you used to do or would like to do (i.e. craft supplies).

While having extras of certain items that you do routinely use can make sense, the amount that makes sense largely depends on the storage space you have available and the likelihood of your using the extra items in the near future. For example, saving an extra microwave that you inherited from a friend when you have a relatively new one that works perfectly well doesn’t make much sense. Somebody else could probably use it more than you could, and your space could also be put to better use. Pick the one you like better and give the other to someone else. It is not doing anyone any good to have it sitting in your basement - and it is in fact doing harm by contributing to a cluttered home.

If you find yourself saving things for the future, and we all do, ask yourself these questions:

1) Could somebody else use this more than I can right now?
2) Do I value a clean, clutter-free space now more than the potential future use of this item?

Bottom Line: Doing a little soul-searching to figure out the root causes of your clutter will help you turn over a new leaf for a clutter-free future.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Closet Clutter: Less is More

I’m sure many of us have had the experience of having a closet full of clothes and feeling like we have nothing to wear! The truth is, clothes closets are a classic case of ‘less is more.’ Just like the refrigerator, we tend to glaze over when there is too much to choose from and everything is jumbled. And with the change of seasons just around the corner, Labor Day can be the perfect time to declutter your closet.

Time-Saving Tip #7: Streamline Your Closet
Reserving closet “real estate” only for in-season items you love and wear will save you time and stress on those busy mornings...which might be every morning! Here are some tips to help you stay in line:

1) Get rid of your ‘fat’ or ‘skinny’ clothes. Instead, focus on the items that make you look and feel your best now! If your weight changes, you will likely want to update your wardrobe with the latest styles.

2) Keep only the clothes that suit your current lifestyle and job. Similar to the weight issues, if your situation changes, you will likely want to refresh your closet with current trends.

3) Weed regularly! You’ve heard the rules, if you haven’t used it in a year, it’s time to move it along – donation, consignment, or swaps with friends are easy ways to do this. Review your closet twice a year (at the season changes) – if you went through an entire season and didn’t wear something, it’s time to go. This may seem scary at first for you savers out there, but you’ll be amazed at how much more enjoyable an uncluttered closet is.

4) Follow the “one in, one out” rule. Closets follow the basic laws of physics - stuff just doesn’t disappear and space can’t be magically created. To maintain order, the best policy is to discard something that has fallen off the favorites list when you get something new.

5) Store like with like. For most people this means sorting your closet by type of item – shirts with shirts, pants with pants, etc. Do what makes sense to you (some people like to sort by color) and maintain the system so you know where to find things and where to put them away. This will also help with regular weeding since you’ll be able to see items that may be redundant.

6) Try not to save clothes for sentimental reasons. Take a picture of the item or find a picture of yourself when you were wearing it to keep the memory alive. If you simply cannot get rid of an item but you are not wearing it, find another place to store it and reconsider your decision in 3-6 months.

Bottom Line: Maintain a clutter-free closet containing only items that you currently love and wear and you’ll have more morning time for the good stuff - coffee anyone?