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a laptop keyboard

Decluttering and organising digital documents

Lynda Wylie of Tidy Rooms has been decluttering and organising her digital documents. In this post she explains how she did it, and how she keeps her digital world organised. 

The Big Sort Out!

I recently sorted and organised every single digital document I own. I expected it to take me days of staring at my screen in mild agitation as I wrestled with thousands of little yellow folders. Surprisingly, it only took me about half a day to complete, and by the end of it I’d renamed, removed and reassigned almost all of the documents stored in my cloud.  I now know exactly what documents I own, which folders to find them in and where to allocate new files. It was a hugely satisfying achievement that still feels absolutely wonderful!

The process was worthy of a name so I called it, The Big Sort Out!

a laptop and computer screen on an organised desk

The motivation

The Big Sort Out was prompted by a renewal request from my existing file management provider. I knew there were free alternatives available but I just hadn’t got around to addressing the task until I was faced with a renewal bill.

Deadlines (especially ones involving payments) can be great motivators! I see this a lot when tackling physical clutter with my clients. The deadline of an impending house guest can be a fantastic motivator to clear out your spare room; a tea date with your children’s friends can be a catalyst to organise your toy cupboard; the builder starting your loft conversion may well get you sorting through dusty old boxes.

It’s the same with getting started on your digital clutter. Your motivator might be to stop paying for cloud storage, to eliminate the daily frustration of searching for missing files, or simply to reduce the volume of documents in storage.

If you’re ready to embrace your own Big Sort Out, here are three tips to help you get underway:

  1. Keep all your documents in one place. This will help you see what you’ve got and make it easier to spot what you no longer need. Gather together any floating documents from other devices and drives. You might simply create a folder on your desktop called Documents. Group similar topics together dividing them into sub folders. Keep your system simple, being consistent and specific with your document names so it’s easier to find what you’re looking for.
  2. Consider what you need to keep. Regularly delete any out-of-date, unused, or redundant documents and folders. It’s much easier to organise less so before filing every document you come across, consider whether you really need to keep it. Look at your directories and think about where you would look for it if you needed it.
  3. Make a plan to maintain your documents. When you go into a folder, develop a habit of getting rid of anything you spot that you no longer need. Whenever you create or receive a new document, make sure you file it quickly to prevent building up floating documents in random places. Think about choosing a regular interval, such as the end of the month or half yearly, to carry out a mini review. This will help ensure your system remains simple, ordered and clear, helping you avoid another Big Sort Out in the future.

If Lynda’s experience has encouraged you to get your digital world more organised, you can find APDO professional organisers who specialise in digital organising and photo management on our Find An Organiser database.

cardboard storage box for organising

Professional organisers share their Top 10 organising products

You’ll often hear us professional organisers tell you that the best organising products are the things you already have in your home. And you definitely don’t need to buy lots of fancy equipment to get more organised.

However, most professional organisers will agree that there are some items that make organising your home easier. So, for National Organising Week, we asked our members to share their favourite organising products. This is what they came up with.

Top 10 organising products

 

10 – Shelf inserts

When your kitchen cupboard has lots of wasted vertical space, and you don’t want to go to the effort of installing extra shelves, shelf inserts are a quick and easy solution. By adding a shelf insert, you can double your space and more easily see what is in your cupboard.

They also work well in pantries, craft cupboards, bathroom cabinets. Anywhere you need to double your space quickly. As Lynda Wylie of Tidy Rooms says, shelf inserts are “fantastic for making the best use of high or deep kitchen shelves”.

Inexpensive, versatile, and easy to wipe down, there is a reason why many professional organisers will have a stock of these ready and waiting to double your cupboard space.

Inexpensive, versatile, and easy to wipe down, there is a reason why many professional organisers will have a stock of these ready and waiting to double your cupboard space!

9 – Vacuum storage bags

Use vacuum bags to store away bedding and out-of-season clothing when space is at a premium. The space-saving powers of vacuum bags also make them perfect for packing bulky bedding, towels and clothing for a house move, as well as doubling the space in your suitcase when you are travelling.

8 – Command hooks

Hanging items makes use of otherwise unused vertical space, and a good solid hook is part of the solution. Command hooks are a favourite for their staying power, ease of use (no nails required!) and simple, clean removal. Laura Williams of OrganisedWell is a fan. “I love Command hooks and picture hanging strips for those items that you haven’t got around to hanging yet.”, she says. “They are fantastic for quickly and securely hanging pictures and other items that need to be stored hanging up. No drilling or DIY needed, and they can be taken down with no damage.”

7 – iDesign clear bins

Clear containers have been made more popular than ever by the success of US celebrity organisers The Home Edit, and it seems our APDO members agree. iDesign were already known for their wide range of clear acrylic organising products, and now they produce The Home Edit range, as seen in the TV show.

iDesign clear bins and baskets organising cleaning products

Our organisers tell us that they hardwearing and versatile, making them the perfect solution for kitchen, pantry, bathroom and craft storage. The clear acrylic means that you can see exactly what is inside each container, meaning better organisation and less wastage. Lynda Wylie sums them up, “Clear, handled storage is perfect for kitchens, especially larders. Stackable, durable and you can see exactly what’s inside.”

Visit the APDO Instagram page to enter our giveaway to win a set of 6 of the popular iDesign stacking wire baskets!

6 – Curver boxes

Versatile and inexpensive, Curver baskets and boxes are also a favourite with our APDO members. Amanda Manson of Orderly Home & Office explains why. “Curver storage boxes, with or without lids, can be used all over the house. You can easily wipe them down, so they work well for food, makeup and bathroom items.”

5 – Really Useful Boxes

Containers really are popular. The clear, lidded Really Useful Boxes come in at number 5. Our members recommend them because they are strong, durable, and stackable, which makes them a go-to for many of our members when working on garage, attic, and playroom projects. Ingrid Jansen of Organise My House agrees. “They are sturdy, stack really well, have particularly good lids that close properly and come in a variety of sizes. We use them regularly for loft, basement and garage projects”.

a row of Really Useful Boxes in an attic

4 – Label maker

Once you have organised, labelling your boxes, baskets and bins is an easy way to keep on top of your home. “A place for everything and everything in its place” is so much easier when all household members know where that place is. As Mel Carruthers of More Organised explains, “a label turns a box or a shelf into a dedicated home for your possessions, whether in children’s bedrooms, pantries or tool sheds”. There are many ways to make labels, but a label maker has to be the easiest and quickest way. They are loved by our professional organisers for a reason.

A label maker on a desk

3 – Velvet coat hangers

In third place, our members ranked velvet hangers. When you need more space in your wardrobe, consider swapping out your coat hangers for the slim, velvet ones beloved by professional organisers. “Use skinny or velvet hangers – and give yourself more room”, advises Shelly Moss of Kewniek. “I still use wooden ones for winter coats, but for everything else, change to velvet ones and give your old ones to a charity shop”, she recommends.

2 – IKEA SKUBB drawer dividers

In second place are IKEA’s SKUBB drawer organisers. These canvas square and rectangular boxes come in different sizes and are perfect for organising clothing, linens, toys, and craft items. In fact, anywhere where you need to split a larger space into smaller compartments. Monica Puntarello of I Sort You Out “I use them for literally everything! I love the different sizes they have and how well they fit into drawers or cabinets”, Monica explains. “I use them for underwear and socks for the all family, in the bathroom cabinet where I store creams and shampoos, in our media storage to contain wires and power cables, and finally in the kitchen for storing pasta and flours”.

And finally, in first place…

1 – Boxes you already have

We may be decluttering experts, but that doesn’t mean that we get rid of everything! Professional organisers recognise the value of a good box as much, if not more, than anyone. From shoe boxes to smart phone boxes, plastic fruit containers to re-used envelopes, we look at the storage potential of everything. Nicky Davie of TidyGirl even suggests that you cover your old boxes in pretty paper to give them a new lease of life.

Like most of us, Nicky recognises the allure of a new organising product, but she recommends buying new products only after you have thoroughly decluttered your space and know exactly how much stuff you need to store, and how you want to store it. After a good declutter, you can often find new ways of using your space and find items around the home to use as storage.

But as our members have explained in this Top 10 list, the right organising product in the right place can make a big difference to storage, efficiency and aesthetics.

If you enjoyed reading this post about organising products, you will love tomorrow’s post where we delve into our organisers’ toolkits and find out what they always take with them when going to help their clients declutter and organise.

 

organised slippers lined up in hallway

Organising your home for the current times

Rosie Barron is the owner of organising business The Tidy Coo, a Gold Certified KonMari Consultant and a Photo Manager. She lives in Aberdeenshire with her husband, four home educated children, eight ponies, five dogs, three cats, two rabbits, ten chickens, six ducks and several fish – and they all Spark Joy! In this post for National Organising Week, Rosie is sharing with us her thoughts on organising our homes for the current times.

Rosie Barron of The Tidy Coo and family

Organising your home for the current times

Living, as I do, in deepest, darkest, rural Aberdeenshire, my motto is, “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst”.  Even before the current COVID-19 crisis hit, preparing for winter here meant preparing for being snowed in and being unable to leave the house for a significant amount of time.  However, even winter storms usually come with a few days warning, so you get the chance to pop to the shops to top up if you need to and to make sure that everything is in place.  Being told to self-isolate on the other hand, or developing COVID-19 symptoms, is likely to come completely out of the blue: a sudden lockdown, without any chance to finesse those final preparations.

We discovered this ourselves a few weeks ago when my husband, suffering with a migraine, coughed a couple of times and decided to book himself a test – it’s hard to think straight when your head hurts.  I had no doubt that he didn’t have COVID-19 (and the excellent NHS Grampian had the negative results back to us within 24hrs), but we immediately had to self-isolate and, boy, was I pleased that I had the preparations done already.

So in this blog post, I am going to run through some of the things that you can do now in order to prepare for winter in general, and particularly a winter with COVID-19 restrictions.

Make a plan

First of all, it’s important to have a plan in place in case a member of the family has to self-isolate. Decisions such as how the infected person should isolate from the rest of the household are best taken when everyone is well.  My husband had to isolate from the rest of the household whilst waiting for his result.  I slept in our middle daughter’s room and he stayed in our bedroom.  He used the bathroom last and cleaned it when he was finished and had his meals in his room.

A Facebook follower of mine pointed out the importance of keeping enough fuel in your car (if you have one) to get to a testing centre and back.

Take stock

This is also a good time to take stock of your food.  Have a look through what you have, discard anything that is out of date and see where the gaps are.  If you were asked to self-isolate without warning, would you have enough food to last several days before you can get a delivery?  Of course, what you should absolutely NOT do is go out and panic buy food. You should make a list of meals that you enjoy eating and then ensure that you have enough of the ingredients to make them.  We don’t eat many pre-prepared meals, but we do have various soups and meals in the freezer and we probably have enough food to last us almost the entire two weeks if necessary.

organised pantry shelves

A medicine cabinet stocktake is also an important thing to do at this stage.  Again, no panic buying!  But do ensure that you have a couple of packets of paracetamol and make sure you don’t let any prescription medicines run right down. This is especially important as we face to a possible No Deal Brexit.

Buddy up

Another important preparatory step is to buddy up with a friend to be their emergency shopper if needed.  Several friends here have my number; they know that they can call me if they are stuck and that I will go to the shops and get supplies for them. I also know that I can rely on them to do the same.

Sort out your working space

As we face a long winter of home working, it’s important to get your home working space sorted out. Whilst some people are lucky enough to have a spare room or home office already in place, others are not.  We have four children, so space in our home is at a premium. We have a desk in our bedroom which my husband has been working at.  Initially, he tried to work with just the desk and chair that were already there but he ended up with terrible, incapacitating, back pain so over the last seven months, we have made changes to this space: first he got a kneeler chair and, more recently, he invested in an add-on that becomes a standing desk – both significant improvements.

When lock down started, I took my entire organising business online! I had no desk to work at, so I had to hot desk around the house with my laptop and my headset. This worked for a while, but complaints from the children grew too loud, so I cleared out a linen cupboard and converted it into a very, very tiny office.  More recently, I have run electricity out to a shed, which I have insulated and painted, so now I have a functioning workspace away from the main bustle of the house.

Rosie Barron of The Tidy Coo

Try to diversify

As a small business owner who has only been going for a couple of years and was not eligible for the government’s support system, I could see my business slipping away if I didn’t grab it with both hands.  As well as my KonMari online coaching, during lock down I have invested in a lot of extra training, including in photo management, so now I have a second string to my bow to help me through this time.  It has not been easy, but my investment in a space that I can work in and in extra skills is already proving its worth.

Get your home weather-ready

Winter takes its toll on the outside of our homes, but there are a few things you can go to reduce the risks. Make sure your gutters are clear, your pipes are lagged and that you have plenty of salt and grit in stock.  If applicable, make sure your chimneys are swept, and wood or oil on order.  Make sure you have fresh batteries in your torches and, if you are one of the homes in the UK that runs off a well as we do, have plenty of bottled water on standby in case your pump gives up!

Find your happy place

I’ve spoken a bit about physical resilience (being prepared with food) and business resilience (ensuring you have a workspace and trying to improve your skills), now I’d like to talk a bit about emotional resilience.

As the winter nights get longer and the weather gets colder and wetter, our homes become ever more important as a refuge.  As we are unable to get out as much as we are used to, we should think about how to make our home a happier place to be.  Obviously, as a professional declutterer and organiser, I’m going to suggest that you declutter and organise your house, but I’d also like to look at other things: perhaps get some cosy blankets that you can curl up in, look for some good viewing on TV, or some good books.  Even without clearing your entire house, is it possible to make a spot where you feel happiest.  Remember, it’s OK to find this time of year hard, especially with the added stress of a global pandemic! Christmas this year may not be what we usually expect it to be, so think about what you can do to make it special.

If you are inspired to organise your home for this strangest of winters to come, don’t miss yesterday’s National Organising Week post “Organising your home: Getting started“. And if you need help, you can find your nearest professional organiser in our Find An Organiser directory.

 

a mug on a table top with "begin" written on it

Organising your home: Getting started

Sometimes the hardest part of an organising project is getting started! So in this first of our daily posts for National Organising Week, we’ve gathered up some expert advice from our members to help inspire you to get started.

Mindset

“Mindset is everything”, says Sian Pelleschi of Sorted. “If you’re not emotionally ready to declutter and organise you will struggle to do so. It’s about getting your head and brain ready to take on the challenge. This is easy for some, but less so for others”.

Laura Gutowski of Everything In Its Space agrees with this approach. “Anytime you feel motivated or inspired is a good time to start, even if you have only ten minutes. The right headspace is the most important thing!”

Sian goes on to explain her method. She suggests that if you are easily overwhelmed, take a step back. Breathe. Then sit and write down everything you want to do, getting it all out of your head and onto paper.

Start small

Pick one area, preferably one that’s small and easy to work on. Once you’ve tackled this, pick another small space and gradually build up until you’re ready to work on the area that will take the longest and will potentially be the most difficult. Hopefully, by the time you’ve enjoyed success with some of the smaller spaces, your head will be ready to tackle the bigger space.

Claire Lawrence of Let’s Get Sorted also recommends starting small. She suggests breaking down each room into small areas/categories, either on a list or in your head and starting with the “easy wins”, e.g. the bookshelves, the linen cupboard or the bathroom shelves. Claire also suggests starting with  rooms you don’t go into very often, or categories of belongings which are not emotionally tricky.

A hallway or a single kitchen drawer are both good starting points, explains Nicola Davie of TidyGirl. “I recently had a client who was so overwhelmed that when we went into the kitchen she became really anxious. So, we just stopped, chatted for a short time and then just started with one drawer… and we were then able to complete the whole kitchen in three hours. She was absolutely delighted with the finished result!”

an organised, open kitchen drawer

Mel Carruthers of More Organised describes this as “warming up your organising muscles”.  “It’’s easier to tackle the big areas once you have warmed up with smaller, easier projects”, she explains. “And if it isn’t, get someone to help you. There’s plenty of help out there, all you have to do is ask!”

Change starts with a single step

Elizabeth Gresson of All Organised For You agrees. “All change starts with just one step”, she reminds us. “So I suggest starting small. I don’t advise turning out every drawer and cupboard because you’ll just create more mess. Clearing one room, or one type of item, at a time will produce better results”.

Elizabeth also recommends removing items as you go, whether it’s putting things in the recycling bin, or taking things to a charity shop or the tip at the end of the session. It’s also important to get rid of surplus containers; nature abhors a vacuum – if there are empty containers sitting around, the chances are they will get filled up again!

Declutter first, then organise

Most professional organisers suggest that you should declutter first, and then organise what you are keeping. This way you won’t waste time organising items you will later decide you don’t need and you will also avoid falling into the trap of buying “organising products” that you will never use… and which will become more clutter!

Just start!

Elizabeth starts by asking her clients which area is causing them the most anxiety. It could be that one room is so full of stuff that they can’t use it. It may be that their paperwork is out of control, causing them issues with missed payments and appointments. Or they may have lots of clothes in their wardrobe but still can’t find anything to wear.

“For me, the important thing is just to start. It can be one type of item, e.g. books or clothes. It can be one particular room. Wherever you start, every action you take will make a difference and you will feel the energy in that space lighten and, hopefully, you’ll be encouraged to continue”, she says.

organised bookshelves

Practical steps you can take now…

It may be that because of the pandemic you have a little less to do each week and a little more time to dedicate to you, says Amanda Terry of An Organised You. “So this week, declutter a commitment you felt you obliged to say ‘Yes’ to, and make space in your diary to invest in a little YOU time. This  will help you feel organised and ready for the future, and this will also benefit your loved ones”. Amanda recommends turning off the TV,  putting down your phone, cancelling the Zoom meetings and putting on some favourite music (or you might choose to use this time to be quiet and mindful instead).  She suggests trying to dedicate 1-2 hours decluttering a space that is cluttering your mind, then STOP.  Diarise this small slot every week and you will soon create the habit and feel stronger and able to do more.

Professional organisers tips for getting started:

  1. Switch off your phone and other distractions
  2. Write down your objectives
  3. Start small – a space at a time
  4. Declutter first, then organise
  5. Ask for help

This post is the first of a daily series for APDO’s 2020 National Organising Week. Come back tomorrow to read APDO member Rosie Barron‘s advice on organising your home in the current times.

If all this great advice has inspired you into getting started, you can find your nearest APDO professional organisers in our Find An Organiser directory

The book "Making Space" by Sarah Tierney on a white background

APDO Book Club: “Making Space” by Sarah Tierney

APDO members chose Sarah Tierney‘s novel “Making Space” to discuss at a recent APDO Book Club meeting. APDO volunteer Mel Carruthers of More Organised caught up with the author after the book club meeting, to ask some of the questions that were raised by the group. 

“Making Space”

First, a brief synopsis of “Making Space”: Miriam is approaching 30 but her life hasn’t turned out how she expected it to, and she gives away all her belongings in an attempt to reimagine herself. Erik lives amongst a stifling hoard of books and magazines, a cocoon and protection from the parts of his life that he doesn’t want to remember. Fate throws these two main characters together, and Sarah has cleverly used their opposing relationships with their possessions to examine their personalities and lives. A diverse ensemble of secondary characters reinforce our relationships with our possessions… making this the perfect read for anyone interested in decluttering and organising

An interview with Sarah Tierney

I was delighted to catch up with Sarah Tierney to ask a few questions about “Making Space”, following a number of questions raised in our discussions of the book. Our industry isn’t often featured in novels and film, so it was interesting to see decluttering and organising portrayed in the novel.

Did you work with a professional organiser and what research did you do?

I didn’t have the opportunity to work with a professional organiser, though that would have been really useful. Instead I read some books about working with hoarders – including Digging Out by Michael A. Tompkins and Tamara L. Hartl, and Stuff by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee. I also did quite a bit of research online – looking at websites of professional organisers and reading articles about the subject.

I also used my own experience of having Cognitive Behavioural Therapy when describing some of the techniques Lisa uses, and when writing about Eric’s avoidance of confronting the past. I’ve known a few people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and this fed into his character too.

I also talked to people with experience of hoarding. I found that when you tell people you’re writing a book about hoarding, they inevitably have a story to tell you about someone they know who hoards, or they confide that they’re a low-level hoarder themselves. I think a lot of people struggle to keep on top of their possessions nowadays – it is hard to throw things away, and yet very easy to buy things.

What prior knowledge of the professional organising industry did you have and what prompted you to include it in the plot?

I wrote Making Space back in 2012/2013 when the industry was much more established in the US than it was here. I think the fact that it was a relatively new industry in the UK gave me the freedom to ‘make stuff up’ a little bit and imagine what a professional organiser might do. I’m really pleased to hear that real-life professional organisers can relate to it because I didn’t know whether I’d managed to make it convincing or not.

What role did the professional organiser play in the plot:

One reason I included a professional organiser, Lisa, in the plot was because I wanted to get Miriam out of the position of being Erik’s ‘therapist’ (because that’s not a good basis for a romantic relationship!) Primarily though, I wanted to give a sense that both Miriam and Erik had moved forwards in their lives by the end of the book.

I thought professional help would be the logical next step in tackling Erik’s hoarding. And when Miriam gets a job with Lisa, it showed she had grown as a person through the experience of working with him, by gaining confidence, skills, and a new career direction. I also liked the idea of having a professional organiser who wasn’t particularly organised herself.

What’s next for Sarah Tierney?

I’ve written a new novel about two sisters on holiday in a remote cottage in the Scottish Highlands. I’ve only just sent it to my agent so I don’t know yet what will happen to it from here but I’ll keep you posted!

Thank you Sarah for taking the time to answer my questions. I loved the book and can’t wait to read the next one!

If the novel or the interview with Sarah Tierney has inspired you to find out more about becoming a professional organiser, find out more about the benefits of joining APDO Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers, or take a look at the available training.

pile of black and white photos

9 easy steps for organising printed photographs

Do you have drawers, boxes or even an attic full of printed photos? Can you imagine having them organised and digitised, ready to share with family and friends via the internet or on memory sticks which you can hand down to future generations? Jo Jacob of Benella Home Organisation takes us through her 9 easy steps for organising printed photographs.

Organising your printed photographs

It is often said that in the event of a fire most people would save their pets and their photographs because both are irreplaceable, regardless of how much insurance they have. Our lives are operating at a slower pace post lockdown, so this is a great time to tackle the job of sorting out your printed photographs and putting them in a shareable format.

a photo scanner, laptop and box of photos on a desk

Here are some simple steps to help you get the job done:

  1. Clear a dining table or large flat surface ready for sorting.
  2. Gather all your photographs together, including those in albums and envelopes. Be careful when taking photographs out of albums, especially if they are stuck down. You can use dental floss to slide gently between the back of the photograph and the surface of the album or you can use a hairdryer to soften the glue.
  3. When you’ve collected everything together, you are ready for the first stage of sorting. You will need to have a binbag or shredder to hand for the photographs you are getting rid of and then take a deep breath, you can do this! Go through the photographs and dispose of any which are:
    • Duplicates
    • Blurred
    • Have a finger across the lens
    • Showing people you can’t identify
    • Multiples of the same scene
    • Featuring a location you don’t recognise
  4. You are now ready for the second stage of sorting, and can follow this basic system:
    • “A” Photos: Create a pile of photographs you love and want to display or put in albums
    • “B” Photos: Make a second pile of photographs that you don’t necessarily want to put into albums or out on display but which you feel you should back-up
  5. Now go back through your A and B piles. Working at a table, and using Post-its to jot down your notes, start to put the photographs into date or story order. Ascertaining the date of an image can sometimes be difficult, so take note of the size and age of the people in the photograph and look for clues as to when it might have been taken. I often play detective and use a magnifying glass to count candles on a birthday cake or the printing on celebratory balloons.
  6. Once you have your photographs sorted and thinned out you need to scan them. You can do this yourself using a scanner or an iPhone or, if you have a lot of photographs, you can use a scanning company or an individual who offers this service. This is quite cost effective as scans work out at about 10p per photo.
    a box of organised photos and laptop on a desk
  7. Now it’s time to back up all your scans. You can use iCloud, Dropbox, other sharing websites or memory sticks to store and share these precious memories.
  8. It is important to label the photographs on your computer so people will know what they are. This is called adding metadata.
  9. Themes such as school trips, birthdays, holidays, family celebrations work well if you are making a photobook as a gift or for your own collection because they tell a story.

I hope you find these tips useful and that you are able to get going with sorting out your collection of physical photographs.

If this post has got you thinking about organising your precious photo collection or memorabilia, you can find an APDO-registered photo organiser here.

APDO member Lynda Wylie's organised cat

3 simple tips for organising your pet supplies

She’s a relatively new pet owner, but Lynda Wylie of Tidy Rooms in Surrey has already acquired a substantial amount of stuff for her cat! Of course, there’s the essential food and medicine supplies, but there’s also a growing stash of irresistible soft toys, tasty treats and disagreeable (to her cat) grooming brushes. It’s a whole new world of consuming, one which brings with it a new organising challenge.

If you find yourself in a similar situation with your pampered pet, then Lynda has 3 tips to help you keep your supplies accessible and organised for when you need them most.

1 Sort and group similar supplies together

Gather all your pet supplies from around the house and group them into piles of the same category, spreading them out so you can see exactly what you’ve got. You may be surprised by duplicates and long forgotten items. Assess each pile and decide what to keep and what is no longer needed.

Remember to sort your pet papers too. Group everything together – insurance, pet plans and certificates. You might store them in a digital file or a paper one, but the key is to have everything in one place.

2 Use appropriate storage containers

Now you’re ready to decide how to store your keepers. There is a wealth of storage products available, but before you buy new, you may find you can re-purpose items from around your home.

three lablled cereal containers used to store pet food

These cereal containers are perfect for air tight storage of dried pet food and are from IKEA

Clear, plastic storage is a hygienic way to store pet food, medicines and litter. Secure clip lids are useful for stacking and keeping out hungry mouths and little hands. Use big, clear labels even though you can see what’s inside. A small container in each room can also be useful for keeping essential items to hand such as grooming brushes for those opportune moments.

a basket of pet toys

This wicker basket started out as a Christmas hamper but is now used to store toys

A medicine box is a must for your pet’s comfort and your peace of mind. Where would you look for it if you needed it in a hurry? Mell Coleman, a pedigree pet breeder says, “It’s especially important at this time of the year to include allergy relief for stings and bites, as well as flea drops, silver emergency blanket, gauze, syringes, thermometer, antiseptic cream and wound powder”.

an organised and labelled pet medicine box

3 Create zones for specific supplies

Store your supplies where you use them or would look for them if you needed them.

If you have a dog, walking supplies are ideal near your front door so you can quickly grab them on your way out and put them back easily on your return. Use drawer dividers such as empty shoe boxes to group similar items together so your supplies don’t get mixed up together. Fold and stand your pet jackets so you can see them clearly.

an organised drawer of folded pet jackets and treats

A litter zone away from inquisitive eyes with scented nappy sacks nearby for scooping daily poop is another absolute must!

Finally, a feeding station away from busy footfall areas will help your pet relax at meal times – you might even like to set up a treat station for quick behaviour rewards. A dedicated pet cupboard or shelf will also help you keep track of what you have in stock so you don’t run out or over shop.

So when you next feed your pet, why not scan your supplies and see whether any of these tips help you and your furry family friends get organised together.

Thank you to Di Kelly of Simply Organised Home

APDO member Di Kelly's organised dog

Karen Powell The Organising Lady

APDO member Karen Powell's organised dog

and pedigree pet breeder Mell Coleman

Mell Coleman pedigree pet breeder with her prize winningcat

and their furry friends for contributing to Lynda’s post.

APDO member Lynda Wylie's organised cat

You can find your nearest APDO-registered professional organiser here.

 

Click here to read more blog posts from APDO

yellow and white flowers arranged in a vase on an organised wooden coffee table

Finding your motivation during lockdown

Have your decluttering efforts been stalled by the COVID-19 lockdown? Are you struggling to find motivation to get organised? Help is at hand! APDO member Lynda Wylie, owner of organising business Tidy Rooms, shares her tips on overcoming procrastination and getting that project finished!

Starting (and finishing) a decluttering or organising project during lockdown

If I’m honest, it’s taken me a while to write this blog about motivation. I’ve been lacking the impetus to get going during lockdown. The idea of writing the blog made it straight on to my To Do list (Colornote for Android), but without a specific deadline, and with a growing list of priorities and glorious weather tempting me outside, it just didn’t move any further.

I know from talking to clients that this is similar to what can happen when you decide to start decluttering. Other things suddenly become much more appealing (even jobs you’ve been putting off for ages) and you can quickly lose your initial enthusiasm to get stuck in. Feelings of overwhelm are very common and you may wonder where and how to get started.

The talk of lifting the lockdown finally got me focused again on writing. Having a deadline is a powerful force for getting your project underway.

a tidy organised decluttered kitchen counter with white cupboards

5 ways to overcome procrastination:

Here are 5 established ways to get your decluttering off the ground during lockdown:

1 Set yourself a clear deadline

Deadlines don’t just apply to big tasks, like decluttering the garage or setting up a filing system. Smaller tasks  such as clearing the ironing basket or changing the beds respond just as well.  You could tell someone about your deadline, even asking them to check in with you as it approaches. Promising yourself a reward once you’ve done the task can also inspire you to get going.

2 Break a bigger job down into smaller chunks

Start with a small goal.  Setting out to file a handful of papers will feel more achievable than tackling the entire bagful. Once you’ve done it, you’ll feel great. Plus, once you’re underway you’ll often do more than you expect. If your goal is to tackle one shelf and you keep going to finish the whole bookcase, you’ll feel fantastic. Remember to step back and appreciate your hard work when you’re finished.

3 Schedule a time to get started

Making a decluttering appointment with yourself, just as you might to see the GP or go for a run, shows it’s important to you. Allocating a slot in your day helps move it from “To Do” to “Doing”, and encourages you to start. Schedule more time than you think you might need too so you know you can finish the job and maybe even have bonus time at the end for a cuppa.

4 Invite a virtual body double along

This is a great technique to try during lock down. A trusted friend works alongside you from their home by video call, whilst you work away on your task at the other end of the camera. Their presence is stabilising, helping you to concentrate and keep going when you might otherwise have got distracted or given up.

5 Focus on the end result

When you’re doing physical decluttering, focus on the space you’re gaining and how you’d like to use it for the things you’re keeping, rather than what you’re getting rid of. Planning how you want to use your new clear spaces can be really exciting and provide the incentive to get you going.

 

If you’re still wondering how to get started on your project, why not try a fun ‘Show and Tell’ video call with your friends? One of my clients has been inviting her friends each week to show and tell a category such as shoes, scarves or bags. In preparation for these weekly calls, everyone has been decluttering and organising their belongings and storage ready to show. Lockdown creativity with great results!

Many APDO professional organisers are working remotely during the COVID-19 lockdown, offering “virtual” sessions over the internet and phone. If you are looking for support or accountability you can browse APDO’s “Find an organiser” page to find an organiser to help you.

 

Click here to read more blog posts from APDO

Functional furniture: helping your home work for you

If you’re struggling to find space in your home for all of your belongings, it might be time to declutter! But what happens when you’ve whittled everything down to what you need and you still can’t find enough space? Professional APDO Organiser Krista Thompson (Zen Den Oxford) is here with her top tips on buying functional furniture, to help your space work best for you.

Whether you’re on the market to replace an old piece of furniture or looking to add to your current collection, furniture shopping can be really exciting. Colours, trends and size are all really popular criteria when it comes to getting that perfect piece, but one thing that often gets overlooked is storage. With stores like IKEA at the forefront of practical design, other companies are beginning to see the importance of multi-functional furniture and we are a bit spoiled for choice.  So whether you’re struggling for shoe storage or can’t find anywhere to put the spare linens, check out the list below to see my recommendations.

Bedroom

Bed Storage: This probably seems like the most obvious one, but a bed that has drawers in it or lifts up to reveal storage space is key for things like spare bedding and seasonal clothes. Since this extra storage tends to be relatively small, it can be useful to use vacuum bags to make big piles of clothes a fraction of their size to fit better.

Bed Storage

Loft/bunk Beds: These are usually more useful for children as you can have a whole desk and wardrobe area under the bed while still having enough space above to function, but if you have high ceilings and limited square footage this is a great solution. They are a huge space saver, especially in single box rooms and studio apartments where having a bed, wardrobe and desk would be too cramped.

Living Room

Coffee Table: A coffee table doesn’t have to be just four legs and a flat surface. In fact, a coffee table doesn’t have to be a coffee table at all. We bought a large wooden chest that we up-cycled which looks great in the space and holds all of our guest linens. If you have collections that you want to put on display, you can get a display table where your valuables can be seen under the glass, keeping your other surfaces clear.

Coffee Table

A glass coffee table displaying a book collection

Ottoman/Footstool: There are so many options for ottomans and foot stools that have storage under the top. We store our table clothes, napkins and place-mats in ours, as we have a living-dining room combination without any built in storage. Other ideas might include seasonal decorations, spare candles or even kids toys.

TV Unit: This one may also seem a little obvious, but it’s very handy to have a TV unit that has a few drawers and cupboards. DVDs are on the decline and we’re starting to move towards streaming everything, but it’s still quite convenient to have a place where you can store your movies, video games and other electronics. We use ours for spare candles, board games and puzzles, which is perfect because we use them in the same room that we watch TV.

Office

Fold Up Desk: Whether or not you work from home, it is very handy to have a space in your home where you can accomplish your “life admin”. If you don’t have a space where you can pop a full sized desk, there are desks that drill into the wall and fold down into a small desk that can hold a laptop. When you’re finished, you can pop it back up and out of the way again. Just search “floating desk” or “foldaway desk” in your search engine to find the best one for you.

Entrance

Shoe Storage: Shoes seem to be one of the biggest struggles that we all have, and the tiny little wooden slatted shoe racks are not doing it for anyone who doesn’t live alone. One way to store your shoes while also hiding them in a classy way is using shoe cabinets. This conceals them, while also using very little space horizontally, allowing for more room to move around in a small entryway. The other useful thing about these is that you can pop a small tray on the top for keys and post. Another great piece of furniture for this purpose is a good sitting bench that has shoe storage under the cushion.

If you’re thinking about getting some new functional furniture, have a think about what it actually is that you need storing. Once you know how much storage you need, you’ll have a better idea of what functional piece works in your home. If you need help with this research, feel free to reach out to a Professional Organiser near you by using APDO’s Find an Organiser Page. If you’re looking for tips on how to organise the storage properly, check out our recent blog post on 5 top tips on making the most of your storage.

Author: Krista Thompson, APDO Blog Manager (Zen Den Oxford)

 

Hannah Ashwell-Dickinson smiling

Interview with an organiser: Hannah Ashwell-Dickinson

Have you ever wondered what being a professional organiser is like beyond the Facebook page? You might wonder if their homes are spotless, why they started their business, and of course the ultimate question; how do they stay so organised? APDO sat down with Hannah Ashwell-Dickinson to talk home, business and top tips on what it’s like to be a professional organiser.

What does being organised mean to you? What does being organised look like?

Being organised has given me more time, better physical and mental health, improved productivity, and reduced anxiety. It really has changed my life. Having a home that is easy to maintain means I can concentrate on the things that really matter to me – my family, my business, and my well-being.

What is your favourite thing or area to organise?

I love organising living rooms and playrooms. Helping a client create a welcoming and calm living space that they enjoy being in, and are happy to invite guests into, is really satisfying.

What habits have helped you to be more organised?

Having a goal! Setting goals for my home keeps me focused and disciplined in my organising. I’m always looking to find more time to spend with my daughters and myself; having an organised home helps me do that. Having a goal keeps me motivated and accountable.

You’re a professional organiser – does that mean you live in a perfectly organised, neat-as-a-pin home?

Ha! My home looks like any home that has two young children in it – there is Lego on the floor and there are clothes to put away.  But living with less and being organised means that it doesn’t take long to ‘reset’ our spaces. All items have a home so even when the house has become messy, it doesn’t take long to put it all away.  Our house is organised so that is functions well and my family can relax and enjoy being in it, but it certainly doesn’t look like a show home!

What benefits do your clients experience from becoming more organised?

The biggest benefit is that they no longer feel a sense of dread when they enter their homes. They describe feeling calmer and less anxious. Often clients say that they have gained extra time in their day as they can easily find things, and it’s quicker to tidy up. Most importantly, clients say that they are now able to move forward with other aspects of their lives that they have previously felt stuck in. Removing clutter and getting organised gives them the space (both physical and mental) to take the next steps in their lives.

When you are going to a client, what essentials are in your organising bag / toolkit?

Sticky labels and pens are useful to keep track of items that need to be taken to the charity shop; recycled; or re-homed elsewhere. I also take a folding board to fold clothes neatly and a label-maker to label boxes. Most importantly, I bring with me a calm demeanour and stacks of empathy. Clients need to be listened to without judgement and for me to hold space for them while they work through their organising challenges.

What’s the most memorable collection you’ve seen? (What did you / the client do with them)

I came across an impressive Harry Potter memorabilia collection. The reason the client wanted to organise their home in the first place, was to get rid of clutter so that their HP collection could take centre stage.

What’s the best outcome you’ve ever seen?

I’ve helped several families get on top of their clutter and get organised when they have been very close to their baby’s due date! It’s wonderful to instil a sense of calm in the client and their home before such a momentous occasion.

Who’s your dream client? Who do you most like to help?

My dream clients are wonderful, creative, passionate people who are time-poor, overwhelmed and have become stuck. They often feel alone and anxious and are looking for a steady hand to help them. They are big-hearted and always have something to teach me too. All my clients have it in them to make change for themselves, they usually just need someone to motivate, empower, and most importantly, believe in them.

What’s your top tip to share?

Getting organised requires motivation and discipline. On the days you feel motivated, use that momentum to tackle an organising job you’ve been putting off and tackle it in small chunks so you don’t get overwhelmed. On the days you don’t feel motivated, try to be disciplined; you know you will feel better when you tackle that stack of post for example. Set yourself a timer, and reward yourself with a stroll around the park, or a coffee and a pastry when it’s done.

If you’d like to get in touch with Hannah about her services, you can do so by contacting her on her website here.

If you’re interested in becoming a professional organiser, and want to learn more about APDO, visit our Why Join APDO page.