Many of our clients are elderly, who are often anxious, upset and sad. In many cases they are frail and are not able to manage physically. Some are keen to move, some feel they are being forced by family, finances or circumstances. All in all, it’s a very stressful time for them and their families.

One of our newest clients is a lovely woman of 87, who suddenly became frail and unable to live alone. She is going to live with her daughter, who wants to take care of her. We met recently to chat about the process, and put a plan in place. Afterwards, the daughter and I chatted a bit. She was frustrated at the resistance from her mom, but also upset with herself for being so impatient! I assured her, she and her mom were not unique. Most families we work with feel the same.

Remember, moving isn't easy for anyone. It is physically exhausting and emotionally overwhelming. 

Here are 10 tips to get you all through ready for the big move day:

  1. Be sensitive to the relative moving. 
  2. Start early, and give them enough time to work through the process.
  3. Work out a plan and a timeline for them. 
  4. Allow them time to reminisce and grieve the loss of their home and their belongings. 
  5. Be understanding if they are upset. Take time to sympathise and console.
  6. Take time to share memories as they go through photos, letters, memorabilia. It’s an important step to letting go!
  7. Remind yourself that its their stuff, not yours. Things they hold dear might seem trivial, or unnecessary to you. Be respectful of their decisions to keep certain items.
  8. Don’t force a decision. You will need to with bigger items (the large ornate dresser that won’t fit in the new home), but allow some of the smaller items to go with them, and they can decide once there. 
  9. Do not toss things without their consent. Your relative is already feeling a lack of control. It is so important to let them make decisions, however small. A bookmark might mean nothing to you, but holds memories for them.
  10. While its great to have some new stuff, its so important to have their favourite and familiar things in their new home. Your relative is giving up so much. Make sure they have their favourite things around them.

Be firm with a huge dose of kindness and understanding. This stage is key to a less stressful, happier transition for all concerned! 

Have you assisted an elderly relative move? Do you have more tips for us?

“Possessions aren’t treats, they’re responsibilities” Wow, what a revelation! This line from a blogpost I read recently jumped out at me and makes so much sense.

I am working towards a simpler life, a life filled with pleasures big and small, filled with quiet moments and great adventures, time spent with family and friends. But I am not shirking work or ignoring my responsibilities. I love my work, but I could do with fewer responsibilities. And the best place to start is fewer possessions!

Think about it. We have a home, furniture, appliances, ornaments, family heirlooms, jewellery, linen, clothes and just general stuff. We have to take care of all of this. Clean, dust, wash, iron, protect, organise, store and maintain all of this. It takes time, effort, energy and money. So, having less means less to take care of, giving us more time, energy and money to do the things we would love to do.

Do you want fewer responsibilities and more fun?

Start with your stuff.

Here are 4 ways to less stuff:

  1. Ditch the duplicates.

This is a Professional Organiser favourite. Why have 2 graters when 1 will do? Do you need 5 sets of linen for the guest room? Go room by room, cupboard by cupboard and drawer by drawer. Remove all extras, all unnecessary duplicates, all appliances you never use, clothes that no longer work for you. Tackle the stationery, the toolbox, the garden shed and garage (if you have one), and all those top cupboards where you stash stuff. Now bite the bullet and get rid of it. Give away to family and friends in need, find a worthy cause and donate, and finally sell if you need the money. How does that feel? Lighter? Brighter?

  1. Stop shopping.

Easy peasy for me. I don’t like shopping! But this could be difficult for you. So, stop temptation in its tracks. Only shop when you need to. Don’t shop for fun, rather have coffee with a friend. Go armed with a list and stick to it. Know where you are going to shop, head straight there and head out once done. Keep the goal in mind: less stuff = more fun!

  1. Storage is not the answer!

Almost all new clients ask if they need to go out and buy containers before we start clearing and sorting. I always answer with an emphatic NO! Firstly, you don’t know what you need until you are done sorting, clearing and decluttering. Second, I like to try and use what the client has and avoid buying more stuff. Quite often we think organising is the answer, but actually letting go is the real answer! So, avoid the storage stores unless absolutely necessary.

  1. Bigger is not better

A home with loads of cupboards and storage space is not the answer. We don’t want more storage space for more stuff to take care of. We want less stuff, more fun. If you do have loads of cupboard space, try keeping some of it empty. In our home, all the top cupboards are empty! EMPTY! So, try it, clear and declutter and leave spaces empty! Those shelves in the kitchen you can’t reach, the guest room cupboards, park the car in the garage, the list goes on!

I’m getting there, and I’ve been working on it a while. Start today, remember the mantra “Possessions aren’t treats, they’re responsibilities” and look forward to less responsibilities and loads more fun!

Wednesday, 14 February 2018 19:52

Do you use your favourite things every day?

I have quite a few favourite things! Pieces I like to look at, things I enjoy using. Wooden ornaments in my study where I can see them all the time, gorgeous antique champagne glasses I use every time I drink bubbly! Wonderful platters I inherited from my mom-in-law that are used at every dinner party, a favourite shocking pink pashmina, bought in Cambodia on a trip with my sister, that I use often when the weather is cooler.

What about you? Do you use your favourite things? Do you enjoy them regularly?

Or do you find there is so much stuff that you don’t get to use and enjoy your favourite things?
Are your favourite items packed away for fear of damaging or spoiling them?

Why have favourite things if we don’t enjoy them? Come on, why settle for less?

So, here are 5 areas in your home you can start with:

Kitchen: Declutter by letting go all the items you don’t really like, no longer work for you, are broken or chipped. Start using your grandmother’s china, your favourite wine glasses and gorgeous table cloths and napkins tucked away for a special occasion. Every day should be a special occasion!

Clothing: Donate your duplicates, the jeans that haven’t fit in a long time, and those impulse buys that you have never worn. Keep those items that make you feel good, that you love to wear and wear them often. No more “I have nothing to wear” days!

Jewellery: How much jewellery do you have? How much do you wear? Weed out the pieces that you no longer love or wear. Pass on to family members and friends, or donate to a worthy cause. Wear the pieces you love!

Ornamentals: Ditch the vases, ornamentals and other stuff out on display that you really don’t love. Display and use your favourite pieces, and enjoy your home!

Toys: do you find your children play with the same toys all the time? Those are their favourites! Go through their toys with them and donate those they no longer love. If there are toys they can’t part with, pack them away for 6 months and revisit then.

Life is short – let’s enjoy our favourite things every day!

Wednesday, 07 February 2018 12:05

To Do Or Not To Do – That Is The Question!

A couple of Saturdays back I had planned to spend the day catching up on a long list of chores and jobs I wanted to get done. I was going to do so much – my to-do list ready for action!

And then my niece and her new husband arrived! As I made tea I wondered how long they would stay, thinking of all the things I needed to get done. We chatted and drank tea, and all the while all I could think of was my to-do list and how the time was passing and would I still manage to get it all done.

And then it hit me, the chores could wait. Nothing was so pressing that couldn’t be done another time. It was wonderful to see them, and spend some time with them catching up! I didn’t get the opportunity often, and here it was, and I was wishing it away!

So, tea turned into snacks as we talked some more, and then snacks turned into an impromptu lunch of leftovers. We laughed and ate, and chatted some more. As they left a while later, I thought “How special! It was lovely to see them and I am so glad they stayed!”

Don’t get me wrong – chores need to get done. But sometimes, when life throws us a pause button, we should grab it with both hands, and enjoy those special moments that we could miss as we rush full tilt through our busy, busy lives.
Oh, and by the way, the chores got done and didn’t take that long after all!

Thursday, 25 January 2018 07:02

Financial Freedom is a Choice

Here we are at the beginning of another year. What better time to look at our finances and how we work with our money.

When I first started my business as a professional organizer I went to see a financial coach Linda from Linda’s Abundance. I thought I was going to get a lesson on balance sheets and income statements. Instead we talked about abundance and financial freedom. Something she said a number of times sums it all up for me: Financial freedom is a choice!

Some of these tips and ideas are Linda’s and some are mine and I am sure you have some too!

Financial freedom is a choice

• If you are able to, do what you love, even if it means earning less
• Give and donate where you can - spread it around and make a difference
• Observe the law of attraction. Be clear about what you want to attract
• Be accountable to yourself about your money
• Plan a budget and stick to it

Ways to save

• Keep a minimum balance in your account
• Use banking loyalty points to pay banking fees
• Shop around for better banking rates and options
• Use your credit card as long as you keep it in credit
• Check and update short term insurance regularly

Priceless pleasures

• Invest in small pleasures: Go up Table Mountain, browse in a flea/farmers’ market, go to the theatre or a movie, take a walk in the country…
• Invest in everlasting memories: Family holidays, road trips, camping…
• Invest in social pleasures: Have friends for a meal, meet girlfriends for coffee, join a book club or dinner club…

How much is enough?

• Enough is somewhere between too little and too much
• Enough is being able to afford your desired lifestyle without getting into debt
• Enough is being content with what you have

Financial freedom is a choice, your choice!

Thursday, 25 January 2018 06:48

Start Your Year Sorted and Organised

So, all the festivities are over, the guests have left, and your home is looking a little disorganised. You would like to get sorted and organised before the year begins in earnest but where do you start?

First things first: have a plan.
Decide on one space. Choose the area that bothers you the most. Break the project down into manageable pieces. Estimate how much time you will need. Now set the time aside in your diary! Make sure you have no distractions.

Now to action

Take time to look at the space, and think about how you would like it to look. Make sure you have everything you need before you start. Black bags for rubbish, clear bags for recycling, and four boxes (marked “Donations/sell”, “put away elsewhere”, “store” and “maybe”), markers, tape, labels and cleaning materials
Now start in one corner and work clockwise, working from top to bottom. Attack what you can see first, then open cupboards, working methodically through each shelf and drawer. Work round the room, and avoid zigzagging. Don’t skip a spot.

Decisions, decisions…

Touch each item and make an immediate decision – do I want it/Do I need it/do I have a better one/What is the worst thing that can happen if I don’t keep it? Identify what’s important to you. Decide what you can live without and let it go.
If you are keeping the item decide where it is going. Everything else should go in one of the boxes or bags... Don’t be distracted by things that belong elsewhere. Place in PUT AWAY ELSEWHERE box and carry on. If you can’t make a decision about an item, put it in the ‘maybe” box. Be prepared to make more of a mess before things look better. Once done, and the bags and boxes are removed, you will see the progress.

Putting it back together

Before you start putting things back, give everything a good clean. Now decide where things should go. Organise in a way that is natural to you. Group like items together and divide the space into zones. For instance, in a kitchen you would keep all pots and pans nearest the stove, all foodstuffs together, all glassware together and so on. Now think about storage containers. Do you have anything in your home you could use? If not, make a note and go shopping later. Choose storage containers that are both attractive and practical.

Before you run out of energy

When you are done move all the boxes and bags out. If you have items to sell, decide how you are going to do that. Immediately take the donations box and recycling bag to your car! Put the rubbish bag in your bin. Take PUT AWAY ELSEWHERE box and return items to where they belong. Go through the “maybe” box and deal with the contents quickly. If you really struggle, seal the box, label it and store it. Make a note in your diary for six months down the line and revisit the stored box. You will probably find you will be able to let go most of the contents at a later date!

Now your space is sorted.

Have a good look at your new sorted space. How does it look? How does it make you feel? Do you need to do anything more, or can you call it a day. If so, reward yourself. You did it, you got sorted and you should be really proud of yourself!

How to keep it that way

Set aside time twice a year to go through your home. Revisit each room and repeat the process. It should be a lot quicker next time round.

Here’s to a sorted and organised year!

Thursday, 04 January 2018 06:25

Packing up the Christmas Decorations

In our childhood home it was traditional to take down the Christmas decorations 12 days after Christmas, and so I continued that with my own family! This year, however, they are already down and packed away! I start work tomorrow (which is early for me) and yesterday was spent getting my home in order, ready for another year.

I thought I would share some of my personal tips. Here goes:

Packing up the decorations

• Take down all ornaments
• Remove any you won’t want to use next year
• Group ornaments and pack in tissue
• I use fruit packing sheets for baubles, and egg boxes for smaller items

Taking down the lights

• Start where you finish and wind up backwards
• Wind each strand round an empty toilet roll or paper towel roll
• Ensure you remove all batteries, and pack all adaptors

Take down the tree

• Pack away securely

Christmas décor and extras

• Pack items into boxes in categories and label clearly

o Tree decorations
o Lights
o Christmas cards and labels, wrapping, ribbon etc.
o Christmas crockery, candles and linen

Donate any unwanted decorations!

Do you have any tips for us?

Wednesday, 06 December 2017 06:48

How to Pack For Your Holiday

Last week I wrote about what to consider packing when going on holiday. Today I am following up with how to pack….

Before you start:

1. Consider the weather and the activities you will be doing
2. If you are flying check with travel agent or airline as to regulations regarding on-board luggage
3. Make a checklist of everything you plan to take – clothes, shoes, toiletries, gifts, maps, and all trip details
4. With clothes choose 3 colours that work together. Rather change the look with accessories.
5. Pack neutral shoes that will go with everything, so you won’t need so many
6. Ensure that all your clothes are clean and wrinkle free. Button up and close all zips
7. Try to avoid clothing that needs heavy ironing

Now to packing:

Your hand luggage
1. Travel documents, jewellery (if you must take it with you), money, keys and other valuables
2. Small first aid kit, medication and travel size toiletries
3. Small sewing kit, small mirror, and an extra set of underwear
5. Stationery
6. A book, crossword, Sudoku or something to keep you busy

Packing the perfect suitcase

1. Attach a label with your contact details to inside of suitcase.
2. Attach a bright ribbon and a label with your contact details to the handle for quick identification
3. Write a list of everything you pack, checking everything off your list as you go.
4. Pack heavy items at bottom closest to wheels to avoid excessive wrinkling
5. Roll your clothing to save space and prevent wrinkles.
6. Pack tightly. Fill shoes with socks, stockings and other small soft items.
7. Put toiletries in Ziploc bags to prevent spillages
8. Avoid over packing
9. Take half as much clothing as you think you need
10. Unpack at the other end as soon as you can. Hang very creased items in bathroom while you shower to help with the wrinkles.
11. Keep your checklist with you so that when you pack up again you don’t forget anything!

Ready to go
Buy a travel guide of where you are visiting (AND READ IT)
Drink plenty of water before departing, continue drinking water and avoid alcohol while travelling
Dress comfortably, and sensibly
Take small spray bottle to spritz face regularly
Travel with small rucksack, or one large bag, rather than several bags. Pack handbag in luggage

How you pack sets the tone for your holiday! Pack light, pack right, have fun!!

Tuesday, 28 November 2017 17:05

Holiday Checklist - What to Pack!

With the holidays around the corner, I have been reading some of my previous posts and blogs on packing. I thought it might be good to chat about it again, and this time in two parts. Today, we look at what to pack and next week we look at how to pack for your holiday.

Whether you are travelling locally or overseas, it’s always worthwhile making lists of what you need to take with you. That way you don’t forget anything and don’t worry about possibly forgetting something really important.

Here is a fairly extensive list covering all aspects of international and local travel. It’s a good starting point for your trip, and you can add or take away what is not relevant to you

Important documents

  • Passport and photocopies
  • Visae (if required)
  • Tickets/ e-tickets
  • Travel insurance
  • Accommodation and car hire booking references
  • Currency/ credit cards/ debit cards
  • Driver’s licence
  • Guidebooks


  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Hair brush, comb, hairdryer
  • Razor
  • Deodorant
  • Nail clippers/scissors
  • Mirror
  • Contact lenses, solutions and spare glassesMedications
  • First aid kit
  • Soap, shower gel
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Moisturising cream
  • Make up
  • Sunscreen and lip balm
  • Insect repellent (if necessary)
  • Small towel or facecloth


  • Try to pack layers to accommodate all weather
  • Pick 3 colours and mix and match your clothes
  • Neutral shoes – comfy walking shoes, smart shoes, and slippers or slip slops (can be used in suspect showers)
  • Enough underwear for the length of the trip
  • Raincoat, umbrella
  • Hot climate – swimsuit, sun hat and sarong (doubles as sheet, wrap, towel, scarf or skirt)
  • Cold climate – thermal underwear, hat, scarf, gloves, thick socks, good coat or jacket


  • Camera and charger
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Laptop if necessary or tablet and charger
  • Worldwide adaptor plug
  • Sewing kit
  • Small multipurpose tool, scissors
  • Small torch / flashlight
  • Earplugs and chewing gum – great on an airplaneSafety pins, rubber bands, Ziploc bags
  • Stationery
  • Reading material, games

Next week, we will work on packing our suitcases….

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