Thursday, 10 May 2018 11:51

8 Questions to Help You Declutter

A few months ago, I worked with a client who really struggled to let go. She was moving into a small apartment and needed to downsize drastically. As we worked I found asking her questions about each item helped her make decisions a little easier.

In the kitchen I asked “Have you used this in the last year?” Quite quickly she was able to fill a large donation box of kitchen equipment.

Going through her wardrobe, the question was “Do you feel good in this?” We decided that her starting point would be whether she felt good in the item and if not, it would go. Two black bags to her favourite charity!

Working through her photographs we talked about happy, sad or bad memories. It didn’t take long for her to ditch all the photographs with bad memories. We followed that with cards, postcards and letters that didn’t bring a smile to her face.

Next came the ornamentals and our mantra became “Does it fit into the home you want to create?” We were able to fill another box for charity.

Paperwork followed and my question this time was “What is the worst that can happen if I let this go? Items like birth certificates, marriage documents, medical details and other important documents were put together in a file. We shredded years and years of accounts, statements and out of date information, and instead of four drawers of paperwork, we landed up with one filing box.

We helped her move, unpack and settle into her new apartment. Having tea with her before we left she said how easy we had made the downsizing process with all the questions we asked. It made her really think about why she was holding onto things, and why she shouldn’t.

Do you find it hard to declutter? Perhaps asking questions could help you.

Here are 8 questions to get you going:

  • Have I used it in the last year?
  • If I lost it, would I replace it?
  • Does it bring back happy memories?
  • Does it give me pleasure?
  • Does it fit the home I want to create now?
  • Do I feel good in this?
  • What is the worst that can happen if I let it go??
  • And lastly Marie Kondo says it best “Does it spark joy?”

Try it, what have you got to lose?

Wednesday, 09 May 2018 08:58

All Sorted Now in Business Insider Live

From the article:

Why Swedish Death Cleaning is not catching on in South African homes:

Margareta Magnusson, the bestselling author of The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning (How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter), can't stress this enough: it’s your responsibility to relieve your children of the burden (and sometimes enormous cost) of getting rid of your possessions when you no longer have use for them.

She outlined the Swedish phenomenon of 'death cleaning' in her book. It's about tidying up, minimising, and giving away heirlooms and treasured possessions to those you intend them for, while you are still alive.

Magnusson’s book was released last year, and, well, the concept really hasn’t caught on in South Africa.

We spoke to Judith Penny, owner of local de-cluttering business All Sorted Now, who explained that seniors often struggle with disorganisation and hoarding. There are a number of reasons for this, she says, from the simple accumulation of possessions over a lifetime, to a need to keep things "just in case".

For the full article click here

Thursday, 26 April 2018 07:37

This Is Your Home, Not A Storage Facility!

Last week the All Sorted team started working with a client who was downsizing from their large family home to a small 2 bedroomed unit with a little garden and a single garage.

As we worked I noticed a pattern emerging. We would clear the top cupboards in a room, sort out the contents and have the client make decisions as to what was going out and what would go with her to her new home.

“Oh, I cant do anything about that. It belongs to my daughter”

“Where is your daughter?”

“She has lived overseas for the last 12 years”

“Has she ever asked about this stuff? Has she been through it at all since she left?”

“No, but she says I can’t let it go!”

Sound familiar??

Here are 4 reasons our home becomes a storage unit:

1. People die and leave you stuff.

Do you have stuff you have inherited and can’t let go in spite of not liking or using the items? You are certainly not honouring the person, by holding onto something that is tucked away in a cupboard, never to come out. You would serve them better by checking with family members and then either selling or donating the item, so that someone can use and love it the way you can’t.

2. People move countries and leave you stuff.

Do you have cupboards and boxes filled with your adult children’s stuff? How long has it been there? Now is the time to set a deadline for them to make decisions, and either take the stuff or let it go. You need to be firm. You are not a storage unit!

3. People ask you to look after their stuff.

You have a bigger house than a friend, or a large garage, or just extra space. You have taken on stuff belonging to other people and its been there ages. Again, set a deadline to have it removed, and stick to it. Repeat the mantra: my home is not a storage unit!

4. People give you stuff that you cant throw out in case they find out and get upset with you.

A gift is exactly that. A gift. Once it has been given to you, it’s yours. You can do what you want with that gift. It doesn’t change how you feel about the gift giver. And would it be better that the gift is used and loved by someone? Just not you!

It’s time to reclaim your home! Your home in a haven not a storage unit!

A short while ago we had to assist an elderly woman downsize from her lovely family home of 37 years to a small 1 bedroomed apartment in a retirement village. Her daughter had eventually hired us as she felt she was getting nowhere and was running out of time and patience. At the first session I could see why they were getting very little done.

Her daughter wanted the job done, wanted her mom moved and settled, and couldn’t understand why it was taking so long for her mom to make decisions.

“Why on earth do you want to keep that old thing? I will buy you a nice new one!”

“Mom, you don’t have time to look at every photo.”

“Why can’t you make decisions?”

These were some of the comments during our session. The daughter meant well, and was trying her best, but couldn’t understand the difficulties. She was too close to the situation, too emotionally involved, and too impatient.

This is where we come in. Having worked with Seniors over the years, watched and listened, we have come to understand better the difficulties facing a Senior who needs to downsize.

Here are 5 good reasons to hire a Professional Organiser who understands Seniors

  • They know that getting organised can be a slow process. It took a lifetime to accumulate a home full of possessions and memories. So much of their stuff will have sentimental attachments, so going through their home will take longer, and require patience.
  • The Organiser has to build a level of trust with the Senior
  • The Organiser needs to show respect for the Senior and their things. Seniors need to be treated with courtesy and consideration, as do their treasured possessions
  • A Professional Organiser needs to be able to communication effectively with the Senior as well as family members
  • The Organiser understands that they are physical limitations which impacts the length of a session

Once you know they are in good hands, you can relax knowing the job will get done and you can do the fun stuff with them!

When I got married, I used most of the financial gifts we received to purchase a beautiful service of Arzberg crockery. A big set, 12 of everything along with soup tureens, platters and serving dishes. A very expensive service. A very special service. A service which we have used every day since. We have lost items along the way – dropped plates, chipped dishes and badly scratched platters. We are down to uneven numbers of plates and side plates, and a half dozen pudding bowls.

We probably would have most of the collection today, if we only brought it out on special occasions like birthdays and holidays. Instead, we enjoyed using it every day, and have 25 years of memories of wonderful times around our dinner table with friends and family!

I spend most of my working days in my client’s homes, assisting them with the business of downsizing and decluttering. And in most homes, I find everyday crockery and glasses, and then tucked away in a cupboard that is seldom opened I find the “SPECIAL” crockery and glassware that only comes out on high days and holidays. The reasons are usually they are afraid of spoiling these items, or they are wanting to pass them down to their children.

Why? What good do these items do, what joy do they bring you if you keep them locked away in a cabinet to be used on a few special occasions each year. They are yours to enjoy, yours to appreciate and admire and you should be doing that all the time. What’s more special than using something beautiful every day?

And if I haven’t convinced you to unpack granny’s heirloom service or crystal glasses here are 5 more reasons you should:

  • You need less storage space as you use the good tableware daily and therefore won’t need space for a second set of crockery.
  • You are using something beautiful and special daily. Do you need another reason?
  • There is no longer guilt at not using the beautiful set that has been languishing at the back of a cupboard.
  • The best way to say thank you for a gift or heirloom is to use it and enjoy it.
  • If you bought it, you get far more value using it every day, rather than a few times as year.

And don’t stop there… Dig out the best table linen, wear the jewellery often, use the perfume liberally!

Life is short!

Every day should be a special occasion!

Friday, 06 April 2018 04:49

5 Favourite Downsizing Tips!

Are you downsizing to a smaller home, moving to a retirement community or simply overwhelmed by all your stuff?

We assist clients with the difficult task of downsizing all the time. Most of them struggle to let go years of accumulated treasures, collections, and possessions. But usually as we progress the task gets a little easier each time.

Wanting to declutter is a great start. Now all your need are some tips and a good plan to get you going.

These 5 tips could help you:

  • Have an end goal. There is a reason you want to live with less stuff. Focus on that goal as you sort through your things. Keep that goal in mind when you find it difficult to let something go.
  • Don’t rush the process. Remember it took time to accumulate all your possessions. Decluttering and letting go will take time too.
  • Just in case is wasted space. Often, we hold onto things because we think we might need the items one day. Think about your new lifestyle and new space.
  • What is the likelihood of you needing these items? Think about who could benefit from them and donate them.
  • Looking for a quick start? Go through your kitchen cupboards and clear out all expired foodstuffs. Then clear out all items that you would definitely do not use. Do the same with your bathroom cupboards and medicine chests. You will be amazed at how much you get done, how much space you clear, and how good it feels. Hold onto that feeling at you move on to other spaces.
  • Tackle the easy spaces first – laundry cupboards, the drawer filled with old electronics and chargers, your underwear drawers. Leave the sentimental things until you are feeling strong, and good about the process.
    Remember that decluttering is not organising. Your mission is to let go and get rid of stuff. This is not the time to go out and buy storage containers!

Remember this all takes time and effort. While decluttering is time consuming and can definitely be tiresome, it is hugely rewarding. Each step is a step closer to your goal. Celebrate your decluttering successes. Pat yourself on the back, relax with a good cup of tea, go for a walk or meet a friend for coffee.

You deserve it!

I posted this towards the end of last year when I was rundown and sick on and off for a month: 

“SO, going forward I am not going to be so busy, that I don't take care of myself. I am going to take mini breaks, I am going to make time for coffee with girlfriends, I am going to make tea in my teapot and sit and drink it quietly, I am going to work on ticking off my bucket list. From today, not next week, not in the new year...TODAY!”

Since then, I have made some defining changes, small things, habits that individually don’t make a huge difference, but collectively have added hugely to my quality of life. Hey, I have a good life, actually a great life and these changes just make it even better!

Here are the 5 small changes I made in January:

1. Before I rush out the door to work, I take time to sit down and eat breakfast. No more eating on the run!
2. I make a conscious effort to be courteous in traffic. Not a biggie, but I certainly get to my destination happy and relaxed.
3. Once home in the afternoon, I make a pot of tea (in my favourite teapot) and sit outside for 5 minutes before I start the chores of the evening.
4. I go to Pilates once a week. I have been promising to start for a few years now, and finally did it. I am looking forward to a stronger, more supple body soon!
5. No more coffees on the run. If I cant sit down to enjoy a cup of coffee, I opt for a glass of water instead.

As I said, not huge changes, but huge benefits!

I somehow feel full for longer, and don’t get hungry as quickly. My body is getting stronger every week. I savour my coffee and tea. I no longer feel frazzled in traffic (well most of the time).

My point is, lets work on being less busy. Let’s work on enjoying the small things in our lives. Lets get UNBUSY!

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!

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