Spring has arrived! So, since we are in the season of renewal and refresh, I wanted to tackle some common situations that you may find yourself in.
“My mother passed away over 2 years ago, but I have not been able to go through her things.”
Losing a loved one is full of emotion and going through their belongings is bound to bring those emotions of loss and grief to the surface. Partnering with someone like a friend or a professional organizer can help to keep you objective. As you start to sort, create categories: things that you’d like to keep, things that other family members or friends may like to have, and things to sell/donate. For the things you’d like to keep, make sure that you have the room, and keep only those things that have the most meaning to you and give them a place of honor in your home. Be aware that there will be items that you come across that you feel obligated to keep. Remember, these are THINGS, and NOT the person that you loved. Be honest with yourself about the amount of room in your home that you can give to these items. If you don’t have the room, take pictures and start a scrapbook jotting down the memories and feelings next to the picture that are associated with the item. For the items that you are giving to family and friends, make sure that they are wanted, and have a deadline in mind for passing it on. If you are selling items, maybe think of honoring your loved one by donating some of the money to a charity or cause that they cared about.
“I have a ton of photos, cards and keepsakes! Help!”
This is something that I come across frequently, and it also takes time to go through these mementos. First, be realistic about the time thing…this is most likely not a project that will be completed in one rainy afternoon (you will find yourself getting drawn in to the memories held in these items). BUT, you also don’t want this to be a never-ending project! So, do have an end date in mind! First, find a place in your home that will give you the room to work on this project and the ability to keep it “safe” when you need to walk away. Do a quick sort without getting too wrapped up in the memories… here are some typical categories: pictures, letters, cards and objects. Then further categorize by time period/event: elementary school, high school, college, trip, wedding etc. Anything that does not have a positive memory attached to it should be let go. See what you have and think about how you would like to store them so that they can be enjoyed! The point of having these things is so that you can easily access them when you want to enjoy a trip down memory lane. Limit yourself by having just one box, or file cabinet. If you have too many photos, think about scanning them and storing digitally. If you have cards that are sentimental, think about taking a picture of them, storing them digitally and only hanging on to a few really precious ones. Contain your mementos by your chosen categories. If keeping in a box, use a string-closure envelope like this one from The Container Store. Label the outside and place it in your memory box. This will make it easy to find and retrieve something, and it will also make it easy to file something when needed.
“My garage has so much clutter that we don’t have room to park the car!”
When clutter starts to form small mountains in our space, it can feel very overwhelming. When I start a project like this with a client, afterwards the client usually confesses that the hardest part was thinking about where to start. But, once you get rolling, you’ll be amazed at how fast the time flies! Be prepared with a few trash bags, one for trash and one for recyclables. Also, have a few bins available too. Have 1 labeled for “belongs elsewhere” for anything that you come across that belongs somewhere else in your home. When the bin is filled, then you can take those items to their correct homes instead of walking away from the garage every time you find something that doesn’t belong there. Since you’re in your garage, your car is probably nearby…have it cleared out and ready to pack up with items that you are ready to let go of and donate. If you have too many items, many places like GreenDrop will come by and do a pick up for free. They don’t take everything, so make sure you check here for the list of things that they will take. If you have items that they do not accept, try a hauling company like 1-800-Got-Junk. As your purging, start to sort the items that you are keeping into categories: tools, lawn & gardening, sporting equipment, home improvement supplies etc. Keeping like items together will help all members of the family maintain order in the space. Map out the best place to store these categories based on where they will be used (gardening and lawn items near the garage door to be used in the yard, tools and home improvement supplies closer to the door/entrance to the home). Also, ensure that all items are ACCESSIBLE! If things are hard to get to, you most likely will not put it back when you are done using it. Convenience is key to maintain order in any space! Check out this great setup for tools and gardening supplies from The Container Store…oh, and right now they are having FREE INSTALL on all Elfa orders of $750 or more from now until June 30, 2018! Yay!!!
Your answer for organizing,
Alison J. Monaghan, Owner of Organizing By Ali