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

Mud Rooms

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

Cathy MendlerIt’s September already!

As I’m putting together this edition, it is 23C (73F) and I’m out on my deck–even though we’ve already had frost a number of times. If you’re one of those people who doesn’t want summer to end, make sure you get outside and enjoy everything that fall has to offer.

I’m excited that I have become a grandmother! Congratulations to Jason and Amber on the birth of Nash Carter Blaxall on the morning of August 20. He’s adorable! Spending time with Nash has definitely been added to my list of priorities. I just wish they lived closer!

MUD ROOMS 

Let’s talk about mud rooms. This topic piggybacks nicely on last month’s topic of laundry areas. While writing this article, I realized a separate discussion about front/main entryways is needed. Stay tuned!

When I Googled “mud room”, I found over 21,000,000 results–just a few more than expected!

Perhaps you’re one of the many people who wants a “to die for” mud room you’ve seen on Pinterest. Unless you’re building a new home or renovating, it may not be realistic. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find some great ideas and inspiration which can be adapted to your home.

While a mud room isn’t usually the main entrance to your home, it’s likely a very high traffic area. If you have a garage, often the door from the garage into the house leads to a mud room.

If you’re thinking about renovating to add/create a mud room, there are many things to consider. What are your expectations?

Take the time to plan your space. Make it as functional as possible. Yes, you want it to look nice, but it needs to function on a day-to-day basis. Nowadays, a main floor laundry is often located in this area. I frequently see clients who find it’s difficult to do laundry in a mud room when there is nowhere to store 15 pairs of shoes. Piles of dirty laundry on the floor often make the entrance impassable.

Unless you’re a designer, consulting a professional for his/her expert advice will be worth the investment.

Make a list of everything you would like to store in your mud room.

  • Outerwear – Sweaters, coats, hats, scarves, mittens/gloves
  • Footwear – Shoes, boots, sandals, flip flops
  • Sports Equipment
  • Backpacks
  • Laundry Supplies – Detergent, fabric softener, stain remover, hamper, laundry basket(s), hangers – (if your laundry is located there)
  • Pet Supplies – Food, water dish, leashes

Unless you have a large room, you will need to limit the number of items that can be stored there. Otherwise, disorganization can still occur.

REMEMBER – No amount of storage space will satisfy you if the people using the space don’t put things away. Designate homes–with LABELS–for everything! If your children don’t hang coats or jackets on hangers, consider adding some hooks. Hooks generally work better for young children. Just remember to hang them at a height they can reach!

Until next month,


Cathy Mendler



That Dreaded Word–LAUNDRY!

Posted on: August 9th, 2017 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy Mendler

Now that the calendar has been flipped over to August, the first day of school is on the horizon.

One chore that goes hand-in-hand with back to school is LAUNDRY. Like it or dislike it, it’s a necessity of life in households.

 

THAT DREADED WORD–L A U N D R Y!

In my experience as a professional organizer, I have found that many clients just can’t seem to keep up with the never-ending pile of laundry. For some people, laundry has become a mountain.

If you struggle to keep up with laundry, try some of the following suggestions.

  • Have a laundry hamper(s) in a central location or each bedroom. Multi-section hampers are available to pre-sort dirty clothes into dark and light colours.
  • Gather all your dirty laundry together before starting.
  • Put each child’s clothing into a mesh bag for washing.
  • Socks won’t disappear if contained in a mesh bag.
  • Use a different colour basket for each family member.
  • Keep your laundry area well stocked with supplies–detergent, fabric softener, stain remover, hangers, etc.
  • Limit the amount of clothing you own.
  • Children grow out of clothes so quickly. Pack up any clothes they have outgrown for your younger children. Or pass them along to a friend or relative or donate them to a thrift store.
  • Store winter/summer clothes in a separate area–if possible.
Laundry Sorter
  • SCHEDULE TIME to do laundry on a daily or weekly basis, so it doesn’t get out of control.
  • Wash one or two loads per day. The number of people in your household will determine how much laundry needs to be done.
  • Put a load in the washer in the morning and transfer it to the dryer once you’re home from work. Or put a load in the washer at night and transfer it to the dryer in the morning.
  • NOTE: For those of us who live in Ontario and are subject to time-of-use hydro (electric or power for our friends in the States) rates, this makes scheduling laundry a bit more of a challenge.
  • Hang up items as soon as they come out of the dryer to avoid wrinkling.
  • Fold and put away laundry after each load is dry.
  • Make it a required chore for each family member to put away their clean clothes. Create good habits in the early years!

When was the last time you cleaned your dryer vent? 

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, “Dryer lint caused 16,800 fires last year. These preventable fires caused 15 deaths, 300 injuries and about $88 million US in property damage. There are no comparable statistics available for Canada.” Schedule time to clean your dryer vent regularly. For more information, click here.

Don’t let your laundry get the better of you!

Get started and turn over another leaf!

Until next month,

a new leaf-cathy.png



Slow Down and Enjoy Your Summer!

Posted on: July 12th, 2017 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy MendlerI hope you were able to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. It’s great to still see so many Canadian flags everywhere. Our neighbourhood get-together on Canada Day was a lot of fun. We enjoyed great company, a delicious assortment of food and ended the night with a campfire watching several fireworks displays. 

SUMMERTIME

“Taking time to do nothing often brings everything into perspective.” I love this quote of Doe Zantamata’s. And it’s so true! How often do you find that you’re worried about something and after taking a break, it’s not as much of a problem?

In our last edition, I talked about life’s fast pace and the fact that most people feel they are too busy.

Take some time to slow down and enjoy all that summer has to offer. Continue to reflect and make some decisions about what you can do differently to lighten your schedule this fall. Yes, it will take some effort–especially if you’re trying to create some new habits.

“I find it fascinating that most people plan their vacations with better care than they do their lives. Perhaps that is because escape is easier than change.” Jim Rohn

In 5 Reasons to Streamline Your Life, Susan Krauss Whitbourne tells us “…. clutter, physical and mental, can interrupt our flow–both your ability to move and your ability to think. … your well-being could also become victim to what we might call the “clutter effect.”

The 5 reasons:

  • “Low subjective well-being
  • Unhealthier eating
  • Poorer mental health
  • Less efficient visual processing
  • Less efficient thinking”

Susan’s article is worth reading in its entirety. She concludes with “Streamlining seems to have its advantages, … not just as a housekeeping tool, but as an essential process for maintaining your happiness in your home environment and at work.”

And for those of you who have trouble unplugging while you’re away, ParkSleepFly’s How to Unplug while on Vacation is a great read.

If you’re cleaning out your closets this month, please consider donating any gently used professional attire to Moore’s Canadian Suit Drive being held July 1-31. This drive assists at-risk men and women who want to join the workforce. Give a suit. Change a life!

So get started and turn over another leaf!

Until next month,

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Canada 150!

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

Cathy MendlerARE YOU TOO BUSY?

“Life is busy. There are daily concerns and obligations that have to be met, and to take time to think about how precious and special a human life is that you only get one, and that every wasted minute is lost. You can’t get it back.”
~Rush Limbaugh

How often do you ask someone how they are, and they respond with the words “Very busy!”? That’s just the way life seems to be. Most of us are trying to cram too much into our lives. Each day has:

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

We overschedule ourselves and our children. Often, we feel like hamsters on a wheel that never stops.

Do you remember how much you looked forward to the last day of school when you were a child? Summer seemed endless. It’s a shame that we don’t tend to think the same way as adults.

Take some time to reflect this summer–as you relax and enjoy the warm temperatures.

Think about what you can do differently, so that your family’s schedule isn’t as chaotic in the fall.

C A N A D A   1 5 0

How do you plan to celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial on July 1, 2017! Our neighbourhood is planning a get-together on Canada Day. I can’t wait to see everything decked out in red and white!

Schedule some time in your calendar to celebrate with the rest of the country.

Remember Simon & Garfunkel’s lyrics, “Slow down, you move too fast …”

Get started and turn over another leaf!

Until next month,

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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,

a new leaf-cathy.png



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,

a new leaf-cathy.png



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,

a new leaf-cathy.png



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,

a new leaf-cathy.png



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!