home working

Make Working From Home Work For You.

Today, the increased frequency of flexible working means more and more of us are working from home. Among the many benefits to this, there are certain challenges. What should your home work-space look and feel like? Zoë Short who founded So Sorted and covers the Eastbourne area, shares her thoughts on home working. 

working from home

 

Having a space of your own, a space for you to hang out with your business should be at the top of your priorities. Why?

Number One: It gives you and your business a work ethic.

Going to your workspace will tell your brain that it is time to get to work. Pitching up on the dining room table, on the edge of the bed or on your lap in the lounge will not give your brain the same signals. Don’t get me wrong, working outside or in a coffee shop is a perk of being your own boss but you will need to do some work with what you need to hand. Having this space will help with your time management and mindset.

Number Two: It defines boundaries

Having clear boundaries in place is helpful for you and those you live with. When you are in your workspace you are working and it’s that simple.

Number Three: Being organised = being professional

If you have a workspace you will be more organized, in control and make more money (and who doesn’t want to do that?). You will be proactive instead of reactive and less likely to miss opportunities. You will pay bills on time and keep track of what is coming and more importantly going out of your bank account.

I work with clients who run their business(s) from home and they contact me because they get to the point when they are overwhelmed and don’t know what to do. I will help them get back on track but prevention is always better than cure and starting with a desk and some simple filing solutions will pay dividends.


People from all walks of life work with professional organisers. They can step in during times of disarray or stress. They can help with house moves, downsizing or changes in circumstances. Or perhaps you have always wanted a calmer, more organised home but have never known how to achieve it. Find an organiser near you.

family home

7 Ways to Simplify your Life with Children

Fiona Bennett is the founder of Simplify Your Home, a professional organising and editing service based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. She helps guide people towards a life of simplicity by focusing on what they want and helping them to clear away everything else. Fiona’s particular area of expertise is working with families so it is fitting that she shares this fantastic guest blog.

7 ways to simplify your life with children

kids organisation

Life with children can be hectic but keeping things simple and organised can really help you maintain some calm and order. Here are seven things that have helped our family life to run a little more smoothly recently.

1. Do only one school uniform wash each week, at the weekend. 

Get the kids to bring you every scrap of uniform that’s dirty and do it all in one go, it will mean they need a few more items but it’s much simpler. When it’s dry, get them to take it to their room and put it away ready for the week ahead, ask them to do this before they have their screen time or before a mealtime, and they’re likely to do it with much more enthusiasm!

2. Allocate two towels only to each member of your family. 

One’s in use, one’s in the wash. Instead of centrally storing a stack of towels, each member has their own towel stored in their room ready for use. This is a great one for children’s independence too. When you do a towel wash, each person’s towel goes on their clean washing pile ready for them to take to their room.

towels

3. Consider how many coats you and your children actually really need. 

We realised our kids had a raincoat, a gillet, a fleece, and a winter coat at least!  When we thought about it, all they really need for the year ahead is: 1 raincoat and 1 winter coat full stop. Less coats = less to store, keep tidy, wash, label, keep track of and so on.

4. Let your children do just one out of school activity/club each week. 

There’s a lot of pressure these days for parents to feel that they have to get their child involved in every club and activity available. We’re not short of choice either, you name it, there’s a provider out there offering that activity. This is just a modern day society pressure. It can result from fear of your child missing out or from comparison to others. Think about your family values and be intentional in your choices. Just because it’s on offer doesn’t mean you have to do it, remember you have a choice.

Of course it’s great to expose your little ones to lots of different things when they’re young but not all at the same time. Imagine doing four or five extra activities on top of your daily job every week, would you feel overwhelmed? Tired? They too can feel overloaded with not enough down time to just be. Remember family time is important and the one thing most kids like best is our attention. Keep their week simple and yours in turn.

school

5. Insist on a family clear up at the end of every meal time. 

When the food is eaten, say to everyone “mealtime isn’t over until everything is cleared away, then you can go”.  I tell my children: “For our family to run smoothly and us all to be happy, we all have to work as a team”. This could prove harder if your children are older and you are only now trying to introduce these strategies, they will no doubt resist, but I would urge you to appeal to their sense of fairness within the family unit. Hold a family meeting to discuss your views and establish a respectful discussion in which every family member is heard and then together try to come to a solution that everyone is happy with, this method can be used with any issue which affects more than one family member. Remember there has to be something in it for them, it can’t just be about getting your way every time. I love this process, I learn so much about my children’s perspective when we communicate in this way. Also when all is said and done you are teaching your children peaceful conflict resolution which can only be a good thing.

6. Everything has a place! 

Find the most logical home for every item in your house, where is it actually used? Make sure everyone knows it’s home and insist (with encouragement and praise rather than nagging) that everyone return items to their home after use! This doesn’t have to be immediately and it doesn’t have to be a boring chore, still encourage children to be imaginative and experimental by allowing ‘mess’ but at some point later, have a team tidy up with some music and a time limit to add fun. Again with older children who may resist, (their bedroom is often a contentious issue) have a respectful discussion in which everyone’s views are acknowledged and try to come to a mutually acceptable decision about strategies and routines that can be adhered to. Consider drawing up and signing a ‘contract’ and agree a reward if continually achieved, (not monetary) something mutually enjoyable, preferably an experience together. Oh and don’t expect perfection!

everything-in-its-place

7. Own less stuff.

This takes quite a change in mind set and awareness of all the marketing messages we are constantly bombarded with.  Remember that in basic terms all we really need as human beings is food and shelter and everything else is just an added extra, obviously this is extreme but recently, in our family, we have started to become really intentional about our purchases, asking: ‘Do I really need this item or just want it? Do I want to give it house room and everything that comes with that such as maintenance, cleaning, organising?’ When you add it to everything else you own or could own, that becomes a whole lot of maintenance, cleaning, organising. Owning less is conducive to a simple household and a simple life. Maybe a simpler choice would be to do something rather than own something. Build some memories rather than potential clutter.


It’s not always easy to keep things simple? If you would like some hands on guidance in your own home search for a local organiser here.

clear decluttered sitting room space sofa

Moving House with Minimal Stress

Professional Organiser and Move Manager Sarah Macnaught, founder of Rightsize, helps clients make decisions about their belongings. She specialises in residential downsizing and home and office organisation to support more vulnerable people going through the trauma of a life transition due to illness, bereavement, separation, divorce, or family concerns.

So you are thinking of moving. With all that stuff.  Well, not ALL of it perhaps, you might try to get rid of a lot of it before you move… hopefully… as a lot of that stuff is still in boxes from the last move 15 years ago, isn’t it?

franklin

As an accredited and experienced Move Manager & Organiser, I know that stress levels in relationships are reduced in direct proportion to the amount of tedious planning done before the move.  You have probably only visited your new home about 3 – 6 times, not even spent a night there, so there is much planning to be done before you arrive.

Here are 5 tried and tested ways to help you move home with minimal stress:

1. Choose what to keep. 

Don’t go through your home room by room – that makes things invisible and appeals to the norm of your environment.  Be bold and go through your possessions by category: How many couches do you own?  Coats?  Dinner sets?  Vases? Golf clubs?  How many do you need of each? Exactly where will they go on the floor plan? Once you start sorting possessions by their category, you can then start to plan how much of what goes where.

2. Be realistic with your selected items.

Measure your furniture up as best you can and ensure pieces fit where you want them to.  Removalists are not magicians and cannot make things fit where they can never go.  And beware the nice long wall on the floor plan with a fixed radiator – that’s not the best place for the fridge and cooker!Ask a local printing shop for an A2 enlargement of your floor plan to play with.  You could also print off thumbnail photos of ‘keep’ items to stick onto the plan.  For the digitally adept, use a free program like Sweet Home 3D to prepare your layout and furniture arrangement. Your removal company will love you and you might get a reduction in moving costs if you are this well organised.

3. Measure up the lineal metres of future space and think it through.

If you have squeezed your clothes into 2.5m of built in hanging space and are moving to a home with just 1.5m of hanging space, you now have nowhere to put at least 1m of clothing (that’s about 50 clothing items!). Every 5 pairs of shoes will take up another 1m of space.Now look at your other possessions: allow 1m of shelf space for every 100CDs you own, 2.5m for 100 books… you can see how clutter quickly builds.  I won’t start on standing picture frames and ornaments!

4. Never use a “Procrastination Chamber” – aka Self Storage unit.

Chances are your next home WILL be your forever home.  The average home owner is waiting up to 28 years between house moves (Hometrack study 2015) so think about your needs for the next 1-3 years but no more. Your current needs are more important than hanging on to possessions just in case your situation changes. I have clients that, after 8, 15 and 28 years have been too overwhelmed to deal with that storage unit, so were still paying the price for it every month.  And then paying me to help clear it out. Ouch!

5. If you are not keeping something, then you must let it go.

It takes time for the rational brain to convince the irrational brain that ‘it’s time to let it go’.  Too many of us hang on to stuff for fear of change and displacement but you can never recreate your existing home in a new environment and so it is time to embrace change and see what rewards await you.  Options for recycling items are endless – gifting, charities, auctions, consignments, selling, shredding services, Freecycle, clearance etc.  In the end, if you know the recipient appreciates what you have passed to them, this appreciation far outweighs any sunk costs and regrets you may have about unwanted purchases.  Just let it go.


Overwhelm tends to be a common reason why clients don’t tackle their projects alone. But if it were that easy, the professional organising industry wouldn’t exist! Take a look at the APDO website for details of what to expect when you work with an expert,

diary

Get Your Diary Under Control!

This guest blogger is Sarah Owen, a busy mum to two children.  As a former Events Manager, Sarah has a passion for being organised and getting things done.  This enthusiasm spills over into her decluttering business, A Place for Everything, where she helps her clients clear their clutter and bring a sense of order, calm and ultimately happiness to their lives. In this blog post, Sarah explores how the diary can be a secret weapon to achieve organisation.

lady writing in a diary

Regardless of life stage, it seems people are busier than ever before; work and family commitments, household chores, voluntary work, hobbies and exercise (if there’s time left) all demanding our precious time.

We’ve all heard the adage “If you want something done, then ask a busy person to do it.” The implication being that a busy person can stay on top of the demands of their family, their job, their home and their friends and yet still manage to find time to watch Bake Off.

However, not all busy people find diary control easy, and can often be overwhelmed just thinking about how to get organised!

So, given I have learned from experience that you can’t squeeze two days into one, what are the secrets to getting the diary under control? Below, I share how to establish good habits in in your diary, whether you use:

  • a traditional wall calendar,
  • a paper diary,
  • an electronic diary,
  • your phone.
  1. Set up recurring events

    When you buy a new diary / calendar put in all fixed recurring events immediately so they don’t get forgotten. For example, birthdays and anniversaries, car MOT due dates, insurance policy renewals etc. Writing them in a different colour will ensure you see them easily and will help when you copy them again next year. If you use an electronic diary, set up such dates as a recurring event so it transfers each year.

  2. Record the commitment straight away

    This may seem common sense but have you ever had a friend cancel on you because they “double booked” themselves? This won’t happen if you write down the time and date of an appointment at the time of making it! As my mother-in-law says, “If it’s not in the diary, it’s not happening.” Apart from appearing dis-organised and unreliable, forgetting to record things in the diary could prove costly.  For example, some hospitals are starting to charge for non-attendance at appointments.

  3. Check your diary regularly

    Recording things is great, but it’s only useful if you check back frequently to see what’s in your diary. It’s a good Sunday habit to look at what is happening over the week ahead and create a to-do list. For example, plan meal for Friday evening dinner party, get quotes for house insurance, sort costume for school play, make dentist appointment, etc. You had forgotten one of your children had a friend’s birthday party on Tuesday, but by looking in the diary at the beginning of the week there is thankfully still time to buy a last-minute present. The great thing about an electronic calendar is that you can set it to remind you of an engagement, the day before, an hour before or whatever amount of time suits.

  4. Be realistic about how long things will take

    Don’t try to cram too many commitments into one day and build in sensible travelling time between appointments. Having an unrealistic schedule can lead to frustration and possibly a sense of failure that you can’t get it all done.

  5. Plan ahead and group similar tasks together

    For example save up everyday tasks (where possible) and do them in one trip – e.g. if you are going to the shops, buy all of the birthday cards for the month, return your library books and drop off your dry cleaning all on the same day, rather than have to make multiple trips to town.

  6. Block out time to actually “do”

    If you have a task to complete that will take time such as a report to write or cake to bake, it makes sense to “block” a window of time to actually complete that task

  7. It’s OK to say NO sometimes!

    We can’t do it all, and it’s OK to politely say you don’t have time to help on this occasion. It’s better to be realistic about your time than over commit yourself and let someone down later.


    It really is worth investing a little time to develop good routines for managing your diary. You will not only appear more professional and reliable, you will also feel happier and calmer. If there’s one appointment you cannot afford to miss, it’s a little “you” time to relax and recharge. After all, don’t you deserve that at the end of a busy week?

 

rows of files

The Secrets to Managing Paperwork

Mel Carruthers is the owner of southern Scotland based business, More Organised

Mel, a former military museum curator, loves filing,‘rainbowtising’ and getting things done. Since paperwork/memory-keeping is one of her specialisms, she is brilliantly placed to share this guest blog.


Paperwork…

Despite living in the digital age, we are swamped with more paper than ever before;

    • bills to pay,
    • forms to sign,
    • newsletters to read,
    • timetables/magazines/newspapers
    • junk mail that we didn’t even want in the first place!

What to do with it all? 

paperwork

1. Take stock of the papers that come into your home and stop as much as you can.

  • Cut it out: There is no single agency to stop junk mail in the UK. Instead, register with the Mail Preference Service, the Fundraising Preference Service and the Direct Marketing Association’s “Your Choice” scheme. You can also fill in the Royal Mail’s “Door to Door” opt-out form.
  • Go digital: Banks and utility providers are going digital – you can too. You’ll be helping to save the planet as well as your sanity (as long as you keep on top of your email).
  • Limit magazine purchases: Be honest – how many of those magazines do you really read cover to cover? Give yourself a magazine detox and commit to buying only one title (or none at all!) for a period of time. Join your local library instead, or save money with a digital subscription.
  • Pin it! Many clients tell me they need to keep magazine cuttings for inspiration. Are they really inspiring you, piled up in the corner of the sitting room?  Go digital here too and use a platform like Pinterest to save, share and plan your projects.

paperwork in tray

2. Now that you have reduced your incoming papers, what next? What happens to your paperwork when it comes into the house?

  • You need a landing area:  Defining a place to put all your paperwork will help you tidy up your home, as well as organise your “personal admin”. Choose one place to put incoming papers, and make sure everyone in the household joins in.
  • Bin it!  Shred, recycle or bin envelopes, unnecessary flyers and catalogues as soon as they arrive.
  • Deal or defer: If it can be dealt with it in 2 minutes or less, do it now! School permission slips, event RSVPs, paying a quick bill – get them out of the way and you’ll have one less thing to worry about.

get organised

3. Schedule some time.

By now you should be left with only the paperwork that needs action or filing, all stacked neatly in your landing area. This is where the magic happens! Grab yourself a cup of tea and schedule some “me time” (well, some “me and my admin time”) and let’s get that paperwork sorted!  Schedule a regular appointment with your paperwork. For me, it’s an hour each Sunday evening, but whatever works for you. The key is to ring-fence that time and make it a habit.

  • Get it done! Work swiftly through your paperwork pile, trying to only touch each piece of paper once. Pop appointments in your diary, pay outstanding bills, write birthday cards and complete any other actions needed in order to have an organised week ahead.
  • Needed later? If a piece of paper needs to be deferred to another week, pop it back in the landing area (and for extra organising points, add it to your to-do list so you don’t forget!)
    Finally, it’s time to file. Filing works best if you have all your files together in one place, be it a filing cabinet, concertina file or cute boxes.
  • Be ruthless: Only file what you really need. A much-used statistic states that we only retrieve 20% of what is filed. So birth and marriage certificates, insurance policies and school reports are a definite “Yes!”. Bank statements, utility bills and anything else that can be found online, not so much. And definitely no need to file the insurance documents to the car you sold in 1993, however much you loved it!
  • Categorise: Label each folder with the main categories to keep it simple (you can always use sub-folders to divide it up if you need to).

And that’s how to keep your paperwork under control! Keep it together, and schedule a regular time each week to tackle it.  As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “For every minute spent organising, an hour is earned”. That’s another 59 minutes for you to be doing what makes you happy (and not frantically searching for an overdue bill!).


 

behind closed doors

Behind closed doors – 5 cupboard organisation tips

Zoë Short founded SoSorted in January 2017 after a 15-year career working in the Further Education sector, coaching people to achieve their goals. She decided to re-purpose her skills to help people who need some organisation in their lives. She offers bespoke, practical support and believes that having physical and inner space is essential to productivity and well-being. Zoe shares her blog about diving right into those hidden spaces.



‘You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors’

It’s a saying you may be familiar with and it is especially true if you know your cupboards are in a bit of a state. Not knowing what is in your cupboards means:

  • wasted time looking for things,
  • wasted money buying what you already have,
  • a bit of a downer for you looking at all that chaos…

Do you open your kitchen cupboards ready to play catch with whatever falls out?

Are they so full that you have to take everything out to find one item?

If yes, then your cupboards could do with being decluttered and organised and that’s my first tip

Always declutter before attempting to organise otherwise you are just moving stuff around.

declutter first

My second tip is:

Take one cupboard at a time

You’d be surprised how much stuff can be stored in one cupboard! Put everything on a flat surface and work out what stays and what goes. Use by dates are important in the kitchen and with cosmetics and medication. Look out for items that you have two, three or four of! Phone charges for phones you no longer have can go and leads for electrical items no longer owned by you can go too. Lidless pens, broken items and socks that are no longer in a pair are obvious candidates for the bin.

Tip number three is:

Give the inside of the cupboard a clean and freshen up all ready for the things that you want to keep.

Cleaning conept - hand cleaning with cleaning brush. Isolated on white background

My fourth tip is:

Plan how to make best use of the space you have got

This is about understanding how you will use the cupboard and what for. This is when you can decide about storage because you have a good idea of what will go back in the cupboard. This about using the whole space and that means using the height as well as the width. These shelves are great for kitchen cupboards and worktops and these corner shelves are useful for awkward angles. Storage baskets with handles are useful if you want to find an item quickly without having to empty the whole cupboard trying to get to the back of it.

Finally, the saying ‘out of sight out of mind’ rings true with this final and fifth tip:

Put a label on it

label

When you have decluttered, cleaned and organised your cupboard you may not immediately commit to memory what is in there. If you share your home with others they definitely won’t know what you have decided to store in the cupboard so a label will help. If you are not comfortable with one on the outside of the door one on the inside of the door will do the job just as well, alternatively draw up a room plan and write a brief inventory of what is kept where. Labelling systems I have found useful are the computer generated labels, the handy labeller and of course a hand written sticky label does the job too.

Take one step closer to having organised cupboards and tackle one today! Good luck.

Budget

Getting Your Finances & Budget in Shape

Ingrid Jansen is a Dutch, mum of 2 and has been running her business Organise Your House for the past 7.5 years. She’s done over 650 jobs helping her clients declutter and organise their homes. Her favourite decluttering sessions include clothes, kitchens and paperwork. She’s been APDO (Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers) President since March 2014. She shares her insights into an area of organisation people often avoid…

Finances, budget and paperwork!

Most people find it incredibly boring and the thought of having to sort or do anything with it makes people want to scream, right?

The thing is that the cost of living is on the rise and having a budget can really help to make sure you don’t overspend and pay the price in the future.

growing-savings

If you’d like to get to grips with your finances now and get your budget in shape than follow this 5-step process. It will not be a quick fix but you will feel so much better!

1. The first step to becoming more money savvy is to get your paperwork and filing system in place.

Open your post daily! Recycle the envelopes and any junk mail coming through your letter box. Everything with personal details needs to be shredded. Top tip: Don’t ignore reminders, but action them straight away as a matter of urgency. You only create more paperwork by not dealing with it!

Create a “to do/to action” pile of paperwork that needs, well, an action; a phone call, a form to fill in, a date to put on the dairy, etc. Once the action is done decide if you need to keep the piece of paper or if you can recycle/shred it. • Create a “to file” pile. This is all the paperwork you want to keep. Remember that 90% of paperwork never gets looked at again so be ruthless.

2. The second step is to start dividing all your filing paperwork into different main categories

These could include: home, work, pension, health, pets, car, insurance, kids, bank, important documents, manuals, memberships, house purchase & renovations. Within these main categories create sub categories. For example, within home subdivide into: gas, water, electricity, cable, broadband, council tax/home insurance.

3. Thirdly, put all the paperwork in the sub category in date order, newest on top.

Decide for each category how long you want to keep things. You want to keep important paperwork like birth certificates your whole life, but a water bill you might want to keep only a few years. I’ve seen filing systems with hardly any paperwork since a lot is online these days and I’ve also seen filing cabinets go back 2 decades. It’s a personal choice and do what feels good to you. If your run your own business do check with your accountant and the HMRC how long you need to keep certain paperwork.

4. Now you’re ready to start working on your budget.

Decide in advance how far you want to go with this. If you only want an overview you can just make a list and write in the left column what your income is and in the right column what your expenses are. Your super decluttered filing system will make it easy to find out how much you pay each month in council tax for example. If you want a very detailed view of your money start with looking at your bank statements and account for all the money outgoing. You can use an excel sheet to write down when and how much you spend or use a budget planner from MoneySaving Expert Martin Lewis to help you.  https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/banking/Budget-planning. There are also lots of apps available to help you save more money. Top tip: pay as much as you can by card instead of cash. It is easier to see where your money is going.

5. The last step is to make sure you start saving!

Once you know how and when you spend your money you will see where you can save. Maybe that daily lunch from the shop can become a weekly treat hence saving you tons of cash. Start saving money automatically into a saving account as soon as it comes into your current account. Do a weekly shop instead of going to the shops every other day.

budget

I’ve helped lots of clients over the years sort out their paperwork and giving them a better grip on their financial situation. It really helps to be organised with paperwork and you save money at the same time.  Win-win!


It’s common to procrastinate over tackling paperwork, especially if there has been a build up over time. Professional Organisers can help with motivation, systems and habits. Find an organiser in your locality.

Toys on the floor on a background at wall

Mastering The Kids Stuff!

Jasmine Sleigh swapped her role as a senior manager in local government to become a professional organiser in 2013, founding Change Your Space. She has improved over 150 homes, transported over 650 sacks of quality items to charity and has been featured many times in the media. We are excited to share her guest blog based on her own real experiences as a Mum.


I am a mum of a lively lad who is about to turn eight years old. We have just had the pre-birthday sort out, which has doubled up as the pre-Christmas declutter. You should know that I have conducted half of that process with him, and the other half (another hour) without him so I could be more direct (read ruthless).

But please note I am a caring, kindly professional organiser of nearly five years and have consideration for sentimental items (yes I am keeping all those Julia Donaldson picture books and the space project).

But, you also have to consider access over volume.

The truth is, if we do not sift and prioritise what to keep of our children’s stuff, then we overwhelm them in the future with a loft crammed with so much they will not be able to discern what was really special.

The average 10 year old owns 238 toys but plays with just 12 daily. Studies indicate that having fewer toys could increase creativity and encourage more care of toys. Keeping toys under control is a constant battle for parents and children. The key is regular tidy ups and reviews.

toys

So I offer up here the 7 best tips I have for my day to day, year on year mastery of the kids stuff!

1. Reflect on the genuine playability of a toy or game.

Even if it has been given as a gift, consider donating and have the toy played with then simply hold onto it just in case.  You know your child; you know their interests and what you are likely to play with. See that excavate your own dinosaur kit? I know that is not coming out ever, so I am happy to donate it, and keep the make your own dinosaur out of cardboard instead!

2. Review and rotate toys every 6 months.

You will bring back into play some games you thought they would never play, and see easily the ones that need to be re-homed to make
space. It is totally fine to store away some new toys from Christmas and birthdays to bring out for a rainy day, and to limit the amount of toys out at one time in the house.

3. Re-home appropriately.

If they are going to a friend or playgroup, then put it in the car and take it that day, preferably before school pickup! The charity shops love kids toys and books to sell, and this is where I have located half of my sons Beast Quest books. He loves to find them and I like to support the local charities. Win win. Recycle, reuse. Feel good about it.

4. Allow them to own the process.

Give teenagers the project of selling unwanted gadgets in the house and keeping a percentage of the proceeds.  I use CEX and there are many other such stores to trade in old computer games for example.

5. Have a dedicated box for instructions.

When donating or selling having these as part of the item will be hugely helpful.

6. Create a system.

Have a large clear plastic box for crafts so you can see what’s in there and keep them contained. Then add a colourful box or basket for their drawings and artwork. When the basket is full ask your child to help you choose the best pieces to put in your memory box in the loft.  This will make those pictures more meaningful.  Plus review the arts supplies every 4 months so all will fit in that assigned box.

7. Keep things contained.

Toys with tiny pieces (Lego, marble run, Sylvanianian family for example) with lots of little bits should be played with up at a table on a tray or a board or I have a play mat that outlines the limits of where the small pieces are allowed to travel. This projects everyones safety around the house from trips and falls, and again teaches children to play but respect the home.

Good luck with your pre-Christmas sort out!

autumn organisation

Want an A* for organisation this school year?

Shula Levy has been working as a professional organiser and declutterer since 2016. After 20 years in the financial industry working as project manager and qualified accountant, she decided to take her organisation skills into the homes of people and help those who need to streamline their house and life and founded Out of Space. Shula shares this seasonal blog post to inspire you to organise your way to the end of the year.

professional organiser

Autumn is here, which means for most people it’s time to get back to the daily grind.

  • School uniforms need ironing,
  • PE kits don’t get themselves ready,
  • Packed lunches won’t magically assemble overnight.

No kids? It’s no easier to go back to work after a holiday. Snoozing alarms isn’t an option anymore, and the carousel of daily routines can feel overwhelming as nights draw in and that winter nip hits the air.

However, you CAN make life much easier for yourself!

No-one’s saying daily routines aren’t demanding. Snuggling up with a bottle of wine at the end of the day is a lovely image inside a glossy magazine.  But, for most people, that time after work and school is more a juggling act of washing, folding, cooking, defrosting and finding those goggles right now; while also thinking about 100 things that you need to be doing next.

Imagine if “stuff” didn’t need to be found and “things” were already ready?

My clients say that “being more organised changed my life”.  And it can. But if you don’t do it right, you can end up making things harder for yourself. Whatever your balancing act looks like; whether it’s prepping lunches for fussy eaters, trying to squeeze in shopping between school drop-offs and work, or just finding a way to organise a life that’s full of family, work and fun, the following simple tips will save you hours:

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Five top tips for being more organised this school year

1. Family planning

Magnetic calendars are brilliant! Move magnets around and have all your chores, to-do lists and reminders clearly laid out.

2. Efficiency rules

It’s easier to sort a week’s worth of clothes and swimming kits all in one go than spend time on this every day. Dedicate drawers or hanging space for each day then, if they’re old enough, the kids can just help themselves to what they need.

3. Food glorious food

Make a meal plan for the week and then get all your ingredients delivered.  Go for varied dishes – it’ll make the week seem less monotonous and you’ll save money doing this too.  Remember to buy pre-prepared packs of dried fruit, chopped vegetables, nuts or treats which are easy for kids to grab. They’ll love having a choice!
When it comes to dinner, if you’re making a batch of pasta sauce, your special curry, soup or a stew, make enough for a few meals and store tin the freezer. Label each box with the type of food, and when you made it. You’ll be so pleased next time you’re craving a home-cooked meal but have no time or energy to make anything.

4. Saved by the bell

Make sure all your children have an alarm clock which they use to wake themselves up.   Set an alarm downstairs for five minutes before they/you need to leave the house which is a signal to everyone that it’s time to put on coats and grab bags.

5. Use technology to help you (but not at bedtime)

Put your schedule on your smartphone calendars and set up WhatsApp groups for rotas and after-school activities.  It’s not a good idea to have your phone by your bed, so make sure you have a notepad by your bed in case any details pop in to your mind at bedtime and the act of trying to remember them stops you from sleeping.If decluttering your home and being more organised this year sounds too overwhelming or impossible, remember help is available.


If you’re struggling to declutter and get organised on your own, there’s still time before the end of the year to enlist the help of an APDO member. Find organisers nearest to you.