Archive for the ‘01 News from Cathy’s Desk’ Category

A Few Words About Storage Units…

Posted on: May 17th, 2017 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy Mendler
“I have three storage units, and that’s no lie. Three storage units. All books.”
Junot Diaz, American writer 

Spring cleaning is well underway in many households!

Do you own a storage unit? If your answer is “Yes,” do you know exactly what is stored there? Did you know that furniture is the most common item found in a storage unit?

Have you ever watched an episode of the reality show “Storage Wars?” The show chronicles storage units which have been abandoned–the contents of which are put up for auction.

While researching this month’s topic, I came across some statistics which may surprise you. 

Joshua Becker tells us that “[t]he United States has upward of 50,000 storage facilities, more than five times the number of Starbucks. Currently, there is 7.3 square feet of self storage space for every man, woman and child in the nation.”

In late 2013 there were “… only 10,000 in the rest of the world” according to the Self Storage Association in Alexandria, Virginia. “About 10% of Americans have a storage locker compared to 1% of Canadians,” according to industry experts.

“For the most part, storage units were meant to temporarily absorb the possessions of those in transition: moving, marrying or divorcing, or dealing with a death in the family.”

What has been your experience? In my line of work, I would say this is partially true. I was just speaking with a client today about this very topic.

THE PROS AND CONS OF STORAGE UNITS

Pros

  • temporary storage while staging a home for sale
  • useful for people who are between homes when moving
  • alternative to renting a larger living space
  • less costly for a small business to store inventory
  • many units have 24/7 access
  • security of storage units
  • climate-controlled storage can be better for furniture and heirlooms  

Cons

  • #1 – cost of storage unit – Often the long-term cost exceeds the value of items stored.
  • storing items that are rarely or never used
  • Out of sight is out of mind!
  • vehicle rental cost to transport items to storage unit – if required
  • security of storage units

Alternatives

  • Declutter your home
  • Organize your storage areas so they are efficient
  • Store items with a family member or friend
  • Store items in your garage or shed

Remember“The more storage you have, the more stuff you accumulate.”
Alexis Stewart, American TV host

Take advantage of A New Leaf’s offer below in “Get the Deal.”

Get started and turn over another leaf!

Until next month,

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Have you heard of a “Capsule Wardrobe”?

Posted on: April 13th, 2017 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy MendlerSpring has sprung! Easter weekend will be here in a couple of days. It’s nice to see sunshine and warmer temperatures.

Last month I talked about Minimalism. This month I’ll introduce the idea of a Capsule Wardrobe. Have you heard about this concept?

Wikipedia tells us “[t]he term ‘capsule wardrobe’ was coined by Susie Faux … in the 1970s to refer to … essential items of clothing that would not go out of fashion, and therefore could be worn for multiple seasons. The aim was to update this [wardrobe] with seasonal pieces to provide something to wear for any occasion without buying many new items of clothing. … [It’s] an especially important tool in a recession as it allows people to look good on a small budget. This is perhaps part of the reason that the idea has endured.”

Creating a capsule wardrobe is not complicated. Wikipedia provides some General rules for creating one.

Courtney Carver’s “Project 333 is the minimalist fashion challenge that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months.”

Here’s more food for thought. Joshua Becker of becomingminimalist tells us:

  • The average American woman owns 30 outfits—one for every day of the month. In 1930, that figure was nine (Forbes).
  • Americans spend more on shoes, jewel[le]ry, and watches ($100 billion) than on higher education (Psychology Today).

In “Get the Associate Scoop” below, Linda Samuels (an organizing colleague) shares her Learn One Amazing Secret That Helps You Let Go.” Thanks Linda!

As you declutter your closet this spring, keep these statistics in mind. Is the capsule wardrobe something you would consider?

Contemplate the benefits of living a minimalist lifestyle.

Get started and turn over another leaf!

Until next month,

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Minimalism

Posted on: March 17th, 2017 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy MendlerIt’s March!

I know most of you have been thinking that spring is just around the corner. The snow and strong wind outside today are telling me the opposite! Remember, “Good things come to those who wait.”

On the weekend I purchased a new computer. It was time. The faster speed is wonderful! The learning curve figuring out how to do things differently and things not working as expected is not so much fun. I’ll figure it out one way or the other. In a few months, I know it won’t seem so difficult.

This week started off on a sad note when I learned of the unexpected death of a client. She wanted to make sure she had things in good shape. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to make that happen. I will remember her great smile and congenial personality.

As you age, most people come to the realization that material possessions don’t make you happy. Often they start sorting through their belongings, so their chidren won’t have that onerous task in the future.

MINIMALISM

Minimalism is one of the latest buzz words. What or how much do you know about minimalism?

Dictionary.com defines minimalism as “design or style in which the simplest and fewest elements are used to create the maximum effect.”

I saw the Minimalist documentary twice last fall. Each time I watched it, I learned more. The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, help people live meaningful lives with less. “Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom.” Your ideas about material possessions will be challenged in ways you can’t imagine.

While the minimalist lifestyle may seem extreme, there are steps everyone can take. People are starting to embrace the concept of minimalism in ways that make them comfortable.

Joshua Becker of becomingminimalist tells us:

  • There are 300,000 items in the average American home (LA Times).
  • $1.2 trillion is spent annually on nonessential goods—in other words, items they do not need (The Wall Street Journal).
  • Some reports indicate we consume twice as many material goods today as we did 50 years ago (The Story of Stuff).

After reading these statistics, all I can say is “WOW!” In some ways, it’s hard to believe. In other ways, it’s not. Do you think that more is better?

We’ll discuss Minimalism more in a future issue. If you have young children, check out SimpleFamilies.com’s Getting Started with Toy Minimalism. After all, children receive toys all year–not just during the holidays.

Think about the enormity of these statistics:

  • British research found that the average 10-year-old owns 238 toys but plays with just 12 daily (The Telegraph).
  • 3.1% of the world’s children live in America, but they own 40% of the toys consumed globally (UCLA).

Consider the benefits of living a minimalist lifestyle.

Get started and turn over another leaf!

Until next month,

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Why Should You Hire a Professional Organizer?

Posted on: February 15th, 2017 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy MendlerWe’re halfway through February already!

After reading last month’s newsletter, what decluttering or organizing tasks/projects have you completed? Haven’t accomplished what you had hoped?

Are you having trouble getting started because you’re overwhelmed? Don’t despair! If you just can’t seem to get started–for whatever reason–consider hiring a Professional Organizer.

THE BENEFITS OF HIRING A PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZER

People often think it’s a luxury to be able to hire an organizer, but the benefits can definitely outweigh the cost. In an organizing session with one particular client, we found gift cards and cash/cheques which far exceeded the cost of my services that day.

Here are some of the benefits you can expect.

  • Sense of control over your stuff AND your life
  • Better planning and organizing skills
  • Less time spent searching for lost items
  • More effective use of your time
  • Less money spent buying duplicates of things that you already have
  • Ability to prioritize, set goals and focus on tasks
  • Reduced stress and fewer moments of frustration
  • Meet important deadlines
  • Clear and peaceful surroundings that reflect your personality
  • Reduce the amount of time spent cleaning
  • Dispose of unwanted items in a responsible manner and preserve the environment
  • Improve your overall quality of life

Whether you’re hoping to declutter and organize your office, your entire house or a storage locker, consider hiring A New Leaf to help you. Contrary to what some people think, a professional organizer will not make you get rid of everything!

When your computer breaks down, you call your tech company. If your washer stops working, you call a repair person. Why not get a professional organizer to help you with your decluttering or organizing projects?

So get started and turn over another leaf!

Until next month,

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Reduce, Reuse/Repurpose and Recycle!

Posted on: January 23rd, 2017 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy MendlerWe’re well into January 2017 already!

Have you been trying to get organized for a long time? Do you need to do a major clean out that involves disposing of a multitude of items and lots of garbage? Stop and rethink about disposal. People tend to frequently toss out items which still have a useful life.

In my work as a professional organizer, I encourage clients to follow the 3 R’s–Reduce, Reuse/Repurpose and Recycle.

If you live in Waterloo Region, new Waste Management restrictions come into effect on March 6. For residents of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge, only 4 bags or cans of garbage can be put out for pickup. Excess bags will require tags which will cost you an additional amount. It’s important to note that garbage pickup will be reduced to once every two weeks. 

Here are some pointers to help you begin that big project.

RESOLVING TO GET ORGANIZED

Have you already given up on your New Year’s resolutions? 

“The biggest reason most people fail is that they try to fix too much at once – join a gym, get out of debt, floss after meals and have thinner thighs in 30 days.”   Marilu Henner

Whether you need to organize your home, your office–or both–here are some ideas to help you succeed.

Planning

“Most of us start out with a positive attitude and a plan to do our best.”  Marilu Henner

Set aside some time to think about what you want to organize. Make yourself a cup of your favourite beverage. Grab a pen and some paper. Did you know that if you write down your goals, you are more likely to achieve them?

It’s the start of a new year. Dream BIG—even if you think it’s unattainable. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you break a big dream down into small projects.

Create a Master List

Go through your house thinking about one room at a time. Take photos of each room; decorators say you’re able to view it more objectively. Determine what functions each room has to fulfill. If the room has to perform multiple functions, create a different zone for each activity.

Your master list should contain all of the projects that you want to complete. Estimate how long you think each project will take. Be realistic.

The next step is to prioritize your list, and determine which room you will work on first. It’s best to start with the room that is bothering you the most.

Scheduling

When you schedule organizing sessions in your planner or calendar, you’re making a commitment to do the required work.

You may not be able to complete a room all at once. If necessary, divide it into sections, and work on one section at a time. If you only have one hour, pick a project from your list that you can complete in that time period.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to do all the work yourself. If you want to organize a number of areas, schedule a family meeting. Involving the whole family in the process can teach them valuable life-long skills. Just remember that children can’t stay focused as long as adults. Try to make it fun!

It’s also a good idea to schedule a snack break; prepare snacks ahead of time. Plan ahead–when cooking, double a recipe and freeze one batch. At the end of the day when you’re tired, you’ll have an easy meal!

Supplies

Stock up–garbage bags, recycle bin, empty boxes, cleaning supplies, rubber gloves, etc. Label boxes—Keep, Sell and Donate.

Use storage containers that you already own—the ones you emptied when you decluttered. For some items, you may need to purge before you can determine what type of containers you need.

Getting Started

“. . . don’t let perfectionism become an excuse for never getting started.”  Marilu Henner

Harold Taylor, a leading Canadian time management expert, tells us studies have found that you’ll accomplish more if you focus on one task at a time.

Gather together everything you want to store in an area before you start organizing that space. Start by grouping similar items together, so it’s easier to make a decision about what to keep. Place items that belong elsewhere in a box just outside the room. It’s easy to become distracted if you leave the room.

Resist the urge to tell yourself, “I may need it someday!

Take a break–set a timer–to keep up your energy level. This is especially important when working with children.

Storage

Similar items should be stored together and as close as possible to where they are used. An item is more likely to be put back if its home is close at hand.

Clear storage containers should be used as much as possible, so you can see what is inside. Be sure to label all containers.

Maintenance

Maintaining your organized space will require some effort from everyone. Make tidying up part of your children’s chores. Schedule a daily or weekly clean-up time, so things don’t get out of control. If you find something isn’t working, don’t give up. Schedule a family meeting; a small change may be all that’s required.

Rewards

When you’re done, don’t forget to reward your children and yourself for all your hard work!

So get started and turn over another leaf!

Until next month,

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The Perfect Holiday!

Posted on: December 13th, 2016 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy Mendler A TIME TO REFLECT

Another year is quickly drawing to a close. It’s a busy time of the year for everyone. Stop and take five minutes out of your hectic day and pause.

Recall your favourite holiday times as a child. Our recent snowfall makes me want to bundle up and build a snowman or make snow angels with the two little ones next door. They were so excited when they received an early gift this weekend–a new puppy. Watching Murphy chase them around in the snow was priceless!

Are you looking forward to 2017? Are the holidays getting you down?

Do you …

  • always overspend during the holidays?
  • feel like you’re singlehandedly keeping the local economy afloat?
  • regret the incoming bills in January …and February … and March?

Take a step back, reflect and make a conscious decision to do things differently this year. Perhaps this edition’s articles will help shift your perspective. Remember–it takes time to incorporate changes into your lifestyle. Small gradual changes usually produce better long-term results.

All the Things You Don’t Need for a Perfect Holiday

The Case Against Buying Christmas Presents

Here are some suggestions for clutterfree, low-cost and no-cost gifts. There’s no shortage of ideas!

The Best ClutterFree Gifts

18 Excellent Gifts for Kids That Aren’t Even Toys

The Gift of Doing

What Random Act of Kindness will you do over the holidays? Everyone knows someone who is less fortunate. What can you do to brighten their day?

Kindness Advent Calendar

13 Children’s Books That Encourage Kindness Towards Others

It is my hope that you can enjoy some relaxing time with your family, friends and neighbours–whoever means the most to you–in the remaining weeks of 2016.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of us at A New Leaf Organizers!



Getting Ready for the Holidays

Posted on: November 17th, 2016 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy MendlerIt’s hard to believe it’s mid-November already!

At the beginning of the month, I travelled to beautiful Vancouver to attend the annual Professional Organizers in Canada conference. It was a wonderful trip, and I attended a number of great education sessions, caught up with organizing colleagues I hadn’t seen in a year or two, met some new professional organizers and enjoyed some amazing West Coast food!

At our Awards dinner, I was presented with my certificate for attaining Gold Leaf status. This status level recognizes not only ten years as a member of Professional Organizers in Canada but also “a persistence of spirit, a determined passion and a dedication to giving back to the profession.”

In other news, my mother is recovering well from her recent hip replacement, my youngest son has sold his house, and I’m the officially designated wedding planner for my oldest son and his fiancée‘s wedding!

GETTING READY FOR THE HOLIDAYS

The countdown to the holidays has begun. Don’t stress! A small amount of planning now can save you a great deal of time in the coming weeks. 

To get you started, you can take a look at these archived blog posts.

Planning for the HolidaysPart 1 and Part 2

I’m including Gift Giving Ideas too!

So get started and turn over another leaf!

Until next month,

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Decluttering Your Desktop

Posted on: October 21st, 2016 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy MendlerIt really is October!

As I am writing this month’s newsletter, it is 21C outside–unbelievable weather for mid-October! We know it isn’t going to last much longer, so make sure you enjoy these last warm fall days.

DECLUTTERING YOUR DESKTOP

Did you know that October 17 was “Clean Your Virtual Desktop Day?” I’m not sure who designates these particular days, but it started the wheels turning. I recently participated in a webinar–a portion of which covered this topic.

When people talk about decluttering, most often they mention the physical items that are staring them in the face. Many people don’t do something about it until push comes to shove.

Have you ever received a message that you need to remove emails from your mailbox so that you don’t lose any of them? Often panic sets in as your frustration level starts to rise, and you think “Oh no! Now I have something else to worry about in addition to everything else that’s on my plate.”

Before this happens, set aside some time on a regular basis to clean up your email or desktop–before you feel the universe is conspiring against you to make your life more difficult. Linda Chu, an organizing colleague, shared the timely article De-clutter your desktop. In a related article, Matt Madeiro also shares some great tips in Downsize Your Digital Life.

So get started and turn over another leaf!

Until next month,

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Time Management

Posted on: September 19th, 2016 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy MendlerIt’s September!

I hope you had some time to relax during the summer. Cooler weather has arrived, and the leaves are starting to change colour.

For many people, fall means getting back into a busy routine. Time management often becomes a juggling exercise!

MANAGING YOUR TIME

What’s Most Important?

One of the critical steps in managing your time is establishing priorities. Set aside some time to think about what’s most important in your life.

Everyone has the same amount of time each day:

  • 24 hours
  • 1,440 minutes or
  • 86,400 seconds

Time is one of your most valuable resources. You can’t store it or get it back once it’s gone. So why is it that some people are able to accomplish so much? The answer is simple. They have a plan.

Plan

In order to come up with a plan, you may need to start with your desired outcome and work backwards. If you take the time to create a plan first, it will pay off in the long run.

Prioritize

Set aside some time first thing in the morning to prioritize what needs to be done. It’s even better if you can do this at the end of the day. You’ll be more focused when you can jump right into the first task on your list.

Schedule

Take control. Set limits. If possible, schedule your most important or difficult tasks at the time of day when your energy levels are at their highest. Be realistic about how much will fit into your schedule. Just because there are 24 hours in a day, doesn’t mean that you have to schedule 18 of those hours. Schedule blocks of time in your planner or calendar for focused work time.

Remember–it’s OK to say NO. If you find yourself always saying YES, ask if you can get back to the person asking for your time. Once you’re away from that moment, you’ll be able to review your schedule and determine if you really do have the time to say yes.

Perfectionism

“Perfectionism is not attempting to be perfect when performing a task; it is the act of spending more time on a task, activity or decision than theresults justify.” Harold Taylor, Canadian Time Management Expert

Procrastination

Emmett’s Law states that “The dread of doing a task uses up more time and energy than doing the task itself.”

Brian Tracy uses ‘“eat that frog” as a metaphor for tackling the most challenging task of your day.

Multitasking

How many of you think you’re more productive when you multitask? Numerous studies have proven this to be untrue. It’s next to impossible to completely eliminate multitasking from our busy lives, but being aware that multitasking reduces your productivity is a step in the right direction.

Lateness/Missed Events

Are you on time? Not arriving on time shows that you are not respectful of other person’s time. When scheduling your day, remember to allow sufficient time to get to your destination. Set a timer or the alarm on your phone to remind you.

Do you miss events because you didn’t put them into your calendar? Make an effort to enter them into your calendar as soon as you make the commitment.

To-Do Lists/Planners

“To Do lists are intentions, but scheduled blocks of time in your planner are commitments.” Harold Taylor, Canadian time management expert

Delegate

Can you delegate an item on your to-do list? Ask yourself if YOU must complete the task. Remember—you are only one person, and there are only 24 hours in each day.

“You have the power and responsibility to decide what you do with the time you have, so choose wisely.” Matthew Jones, Contributor, Inc.com

So get started and turn over another leaf!

Until next month,

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GETTING ORGANIZED FOR BACK TO SCHOOL

Posted on: August 9th, 2016 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy MendlerSCHOOL IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER!

It’s that time of year again. The relaxing days of summer are almost behind us. We’ve had such a warm summer already!

If you plan ahead, you’ll be ready for the first day of school.

Let’s get started and turn over another leaf! 

GETTING ORGANIZED FOR BACK TO SCHOOL

Planning

  • Don’t wait until the night before school starts to try and get your children into their back-to-school routine. Start a week or two before.
  • The morning routine is under your control. Everyone will have a better day if it starts out calmly.

Clothing

Have your children try on all of their clothing to see what still fits. Make a list of what is needed.

School Supplies

Has the school provided a list of supplies that will be required?

  • First, take inventory of the supplies you currently have. You may not need as many supplies as you think. Check out Katy Wolk-Stanley’s Just Say No to Unnecessary Brand New School Supplies!
  • Stock up during the back-to-school sales. Keep in mind that saving a couple of dollars by running from store to store may not be worth the extra effort involved. Remember–your time is valuable!

If you can, support a School Supply Drive in your area. There are always children in need.

Ensure that backpacks are the correct size for your children.

  • Let them choose one with your help; if they like it, they’ll be more likely to use it and less likely to lose it.

Lunches

Keep your cupboards well stocked with lunch items.

  • Single-serving sizes may be more convenient, but they are more costly. Buying in bulk can cost less—if you have sufficient storage space.
  • Keep a pen and paper handy in or near your pantry to note items that are running low.
  • Reduce the environmental impact of making lunches every day–try to make them litter-less.

Labeling

Don’t forget to label all items your children take to school which need to be brought home each night or week.

Entryway/Mudroom

Have a designated spot for each child’s coat, mittens, boots, backpack and sports equipment.

Homework and Study Area

Make sure that your children have an area to do homework or study that is free from clutter, comfortable, well-lit and as quiet as possible.

  • Pens, pencils, erasers, coloured pencils, markers, paper, glue, stapler, ruler, calculator, tape, scissors, etc. should all have a designated spot. If you’re limited for space, a rolling cart with drawers is great for storing art and school supplies.
  • Keep reference materials handy, so children aren’t distracted by having to look for these items.

Calendar and Scheduling

All activities should be put onto one calendar.

  • Keeping more than one calendar is difficult; it usually results in missed appointments.
  • Label each family member’s activities in a different colour; let your children pick their favourite colour.
  • Limit extra-curricular activities for each child. Try not to overschedule.

Your children need some time to just be kids!

Until next month,

P.S.  Do YOU or someone you know need a professional organizer? TAKE OUR TEST and find out for yourself today!