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A Cluttered Life – Middle Class Abundance

Make your home perfect for you.

Make your home perfect for you.

This 6 minute video is a great look at our society and our relationship with “stuff”.  It is easy to collect “stuff” but it is hard to know how to get rid of things.

http://www.uctv.tv/shows/Stuff-A-Cluttered-Life-Middle-Class-Abundance-Ep-1-24699

Need help simplifying your life and home contact Mind over Clutter to work with you in person or virtually to help you meet your goals.

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

Happy St Patrick’s Day

Facts about St Patrick’s Day 

Shamrock

Shamrock

1.Irish immigrants coming to North America started St Patrick’s day parades to honour their nationality.

2. The first parade took place in Boston in 1737 followed by New York in 1762.

3.Ireland held their first parade in 1931

4.St Patrick’s Day always fell during Lent, when all the pubs where closed

5.The original colour associated with St Patrick is blue but because shamrocks and leprechauns are green, St Patrick’s Day adopted the colour green.

 

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Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

 

Organize Your Work Schedule with an Interruption-Free Hour

Many people realize that multitasking is not the best way to get work completed.  However they experience many small interruptions in their day, e-mail, texting and phone calls that take away from concentrating on a project.

These small tasks, added together, use up your work day.

“Drive by” conversations, when  colleagues  stop by your desk or stop you in the hall and give you information also take time away from important tasks to be completed. As well the information may be forgotten or lost.

Being interrupted by colleagues stoppingto chat can cost you a lot of valuable time.

Some offices have designated a specific time of the day for working on projects. It is an interruption free time to concentrate on work during which employees can’t send or answer emails, texts, phone calls, attend meetings, etc.  Each office is different so the designated time maybe office wide or scheduled into each person’s work day, week, or month individually.  It is important that this time and format is respected by your colleagues and supported by management.  You maybe surprised how much you can get done in one hour with no interruptions and your full concentration on one task at a time.

Contact Julie at Mind over Clutter to come and speak at your office.

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

Tips for Storage Rooms

There are a number of questions to ask yourself before you purchase shelving for your storage room.

enclosed storage unit

stow your items behind doors

1. Do you like things displayed on open shelves or stowed behind closed doors?  This will help you determine if you want a cupboard or shelving.

2. Next measure the space.  You need to get storage that uses all the area and not buy storage that leaves some of the area unusable because one storage unit is too large and another storage unit can’t fit into the remaining space.

3. Next ask yourself, will you open a lid to put things into a container, will you reclose the top of a box?  If the answer is no then cut the flaps off the box or purchase containers without lids.  You want to make it as easy as possible to get the items into the correct box.

open crate

Crates are great if you won’t put a lid on a container

4. Lastly ask yourself, if your bins are stacked will you unstack them to put something in the bottom container?  Will you restack the containers on the storage unit?  If your answer is no then buy large containers that fill the vertical space between the shelves so you can maximize your storage.  It is usually good to have two or three containers on each shelf. Now you have your storage units and bins.

  • Store items you use frequently at eye level.
  • Store heavy items on the bottom shelf
  • Store items close to where you use them
  • Store infrequently used items up high or in less accessible areas.

Trying to store hockey bags?  Try placing two shelving units that are 4 or 5 shelves high, with 24” or 36” deep shelves, one in front of the other and securely attach them together.   This will hold one bag per shelf with room to leave it open to air out and place some items on the shelf beside the bag to dry.

With the right shelves and bins it is easy to sort your items into categories, place them in a labeled container and locate them in your storage room.  Remember to keep only what you need and love.

Need a one hour free assessment to help you pick the best storage solutions for you contact Mind over Clutter and ask for Julie.

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

Clearing an Estate? Read “They Left Us Everything”

Today I am reviewing a booked written by Plum Johnson, They Left Us Everything  a memoir. She is a Canadian author from Oakville, Ontario. It is an easy to read , novel style story about her experience emptying her parent’s home.  Once you start reading it you become engaged in the story and can’t put the book down. It takes you on a roller coaster of emotions:  sad, humorous, happy and thoughtful.

Paperback book, They Left Us Everything

by Plum Johnson

Many people have had the experience of going through years of possessions and trying to figure out

  • how to divide things between family members,
  • where to donate things,
  • the division of labour between family members on how the work will get completed and
  • when to sell the home.

This book takes the reader through the many pitfalls and solutions that Plum and her siblings discover to solve these difficult situations.

One of my favourite parts of the book is the chapter on how they divide up their parents’ possessions between the 4 siblings .  Plum has made an annotated inventory list complete with photographs, 422 items, 8 pages long.  There are two categories; one for all the furnishings that have been appraised and priced and one for historical items that were considered priceless. They take turns picking things off the list until everything is gone.  It is very interesting to read the how the process goes, who selects which items and why, and how competitive they can be during this process.

The book has practical suggestions but mostly it gives the reader emotional and psychological insights into the relationships that they have with their parents and that their parents have with each other.  It also shows how these relationships affect how they experience dealing with their parents’ possessions. Learning from their experiences can help each of us to understand the many layers of feelings that affect each of us and our relationships with people and “stuff”

A few memorable thoughts from the book are;

  1. “The most valuable things come from within yourself”
  2. “Are you untangling the stuff in the house or untangling yourself from your parents?”
  3. “Gradually things in the house relinquished their hold on us.”

Post a comment about the part of the book you liked best or a tip to make clearing an estate easier.

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

5 W’s of Downsizing

Scaling down

Great ideas for downsizing, moving or moving a family member

Whether you are moving from a house to an apartment, retirement home or you have already done this but still have abundance in your home and want to scale down even more understanding the where, why,who how and what can make the decisions easier.

Where does all the stuff come from?

It may not even be your stuff.  Some of us have things from your parents downsizing that ended up at your house because your Mom and Dad didn’t want to give it away but didn’t have room, so out of respect to your parents you stored it at your house. Perhaps your children have moved out but their stuff hasn’t.

Why do we keep so much?

During the depression we learned to keep an iron grip on anything that might still have some good in it. Then we were encouraged to buy, buy, and buy and to acquire every luxury we could afford.  Next, items began to be manufactured so cheaply that when you couldn’t find it you bought another. The Reagan years were about visible consumption.  We had TV shows like the Lifestyles OF THE Rich and Famous.  We started competing with millionaires. Perhaps you have spent 40 years accumulating and now you are spending time getting rid of excess.

Who is downsizing?

The first thing is for YOU to make the decision that it is necessary to do it.  Not because your spouse or your sister or friend says you should.  Just like losing weight or quitting smoking, it has to be your decision otherwise you won’t be successful.  It is a hard process not only because it can be very physical but there are a lot of emotions that go with it and it can be a long process.  Our culture seems to think that building up is inherently better than scaling down. Fewer luxuries make you appear to be a less successful person.  The idea that some people judge your worth by the things you own, rather than by your personality and achievements can stop you from downsizing. It can be life changing to let go of your things.  When the process is over, you may feel

  • less stressed,
  • sleep better,
  • have more time to be with family, grandchildren or even travel.

Scaling down does not mean renouncing your own style. It means stripping away things that no longer fit or do not contribute to making your lifestyle easier.  You want to be able to find the things you need and love.

How? Make a Plan

Once you have made your decision to downsize or streamline, before you begin the process it is important to know what you want as the outcome, set a goal of what you ultimately want it to look like. If you’re moving – you need to know room sizes and what are the absolute must have large items like a bed, couches, dressers, antiques etc.  Write it all down.  Once you know what you want, and what it should look like and visualize the end product then you start to go through your things.  It will help make the decisions easier, because you can see if it will fit your plan.

What is stopping you?

If you are the type of person that has a hard time getting rid of things, try to understand why it is difficult for you.

  • Are you sentimental?
  • Do you like to be in control?
  • Is it about pride?
  • Do you hate making decision?
  • Is it too painful to revisit certain parts of your life?

Being honest with yourself makes the process easier.

When?

Schedule time to do it when you are not rushed and do one room, box or corner. Give yourself a set amount of time, if you feel you want to continue then great, but don’t become overwhelmed.

Here are some steps you can take to tackle the job

  • Set up a few boxes or bins and label them.  Charity, family, garbage, recycle, keep.
  • While sorting, group like with like.  Put all your books together, electronics, collections, paper etc.

At the end of the session

  • take the donated items to the front door or even better right out to your car so that you will drop it off
  • put the recycling out
  • put the garbage out
  • move items that you are returning to other people close to the door

When deciding whether you should give it away, go back to your plan and see if it,

  •  will fit into your space
  • will go with your new design or décor.
  • If not donate.

After grouping all the items you can then see how much you really have and you may need to donate some more items.

Collections and Antiques

The hardest thing for people to let go of are their collections and antiques especially, if they belonged to a parent or a loved one that has passed. Ask youself:

  • Do you have room for them?
  • If they end up in storage or in a box how treasured are they?
  • Could you just keep one or two and give away the rest?
  • Can you take pictures of them?
  • Do some research to see if they are evaluable and have someone sell it on e-bay for you or contact an antique dealer?

If you don’t have room for it give it to a family member that has the same passion for collecting so they can enjoy it and you can visit.  Invite a people over for brunch.  After the meal show them the items you are giving away and let them select things that have meaning for them.

Staying surrounded by things that remind you of the past or which you respond to predictably may prevent you from moving ahead with your life.   Remember they are just things you will still have the memories.  After you have completed downsizing you will end up with a beautiful home, filled only with what you need and love, that uses every inch of space the way you want. You will have control over your environment and freedom from chaos.

Need help with downsizing, contact Mind over Clutter for a one hour free assessment in-person or virtually over Skype.

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

Photo Organizing

Many people have photos in boxes just waiting to have time to organize them.  This cold winter weather maybe just the right time for you.

As you look over the photos you may not be able to remember when you took the picture, the year or date.  Instead of organizng the photos chronologically think about using themes.  Sort your pictures into celebrations, vacations, family, friends, pets and homes etc.  Once you have your pictures grouped than you can decide if you want to scan them, place them in boxes with dividers or scrapbook your photos.

Enjoy spending time with your memories. If you need help regaining control of your photos and memories, I am ready to take on the challenge. Photo Organizers work with clients to sort through images, find connecting themes, neatly catalogue and edit them into photo narratives and albums that clients are proud to share – now and for years to come. Association of Personal Photo Organizers

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

 

Start Organizing your Garden Now – Tips from a Professional

My guest blogger is Ron Thiessen of Thiessen Farms .  logo1large2He has been farming  all his life.  As a child he worked with his dad and then took over the farm.  He sells his produce at markets and has developed a Community Supported Agricultural Program (CSA) of over 200 families who buy a share of his crops and pick up their produce every week at his farm from May to October. He is located in Jordan Station, Ontario , Canada.  He has written on organizing your seeds, choosing your crops and charting their progress.

Crop Planning and  Choosing Seeds

Brad’s Atomic Grape Tomato

Brads-Atomic-Grape

“Elongated cherries in clusters. The colour (and flavor!) is a full-blown assault on the senses – lavender and purple stripes when immature, turning to technicolor olive-green, red, and brown/blue stripes when fully ripe. Really wild! … this amazing variety a good candidate for market growers …” (from www.rareseeds.com)

When we saw this new tomato in a seed catalogue it immediately became a must grow variety for Thiessen Farms in 2017. It looks and sounds amazing!

And when we found seed for the hottest-of-hot peppers – Ghost, Carolina Reaper & Trinidad Scorpion – there was no doubt that they would be on the list too, along with Glass Gem corn, Superschmelz kohlrabi and Golden Wa Wa cabbage.

Coloured kernels of corn on a cob

Glass Gem Corn

Superschmelz kohlrabi

I’ll admit it. We’re suckers for a cool sounding name and a fancy description. That’s why our seed list has grown to more than 450 varieties of  over 60 different vegetables and herbs. But it’s really a cheap thrill. For a few bucks we get to try something new. Sometimes it will turn out great and become a favourite. Other times it’s a disappointment and we never grow it again. But it’s always fun experimenting!

The first week in January is always seed ordering time. We pour over the seed catalogues devouring the particulars of all the vegetables, herbs & flowers, choosing the varieties we will grow in the upcoming season. The selection of seeds is overwhelming making it a delightful yet daunting task.

Here’s how we make our choices …

1. We know what we grew in previous years.

We keep a master list – a spreadsheet that names each crop and  variety we grew last season, the amount of seed we have on hand, the year purchased, the company it came from, and the number of days from seeding until harvest. This gives us someplace to start. When the seeds are ordered, all this data is updated & any new varieties are added and those we will not be growing are eliminated.

2. We keep good records – an awful lot of records.

We have a chart where we record every seed we sow in the greenhouse – the date we seeded, the amount, the date the first seeds poked up through the soil, the date we transplanted them and how many, and a spot for random comments. We have more charts where we record everything that gets planted out in the fields – whether it is direct seeded or transplanted from the greenhouse, the variety, the amount, the date. Throughout the growing season we make written notes – both quick observations that we jotted down on the run and more formal evaluations of the different vegetables and how they grew, and produced, their yields, taste, plant health … Photographs are also very helpful for this and  so easy to take with cellphones. We find these records invaluable and refer back to them often.

3. As commercial growers we look to our customers for information 

What crops sold well and which ones did not, what caught the customers attention, what vegetables are they asking for … We have more charts. For each day at the farmers’ market we record what we brought, how much we sold, the prices and the weather for the day. There are similar charts for each Community Support Agricultural Program (CSA )pick-up. These give us a clear picture of what to grow and how much based on actual sales.

4. What would be fun and interesting to grow!

We always try to grow something new that we have not done before. Recent examples include kalettes , cauliflower  artichokes and fava beans.

The seeds are arriving almost daily now

Close to 500 packets of seeds – different sized envelopes, some paper, some foil, even a cloth bag or two, and at least one larger 25 pound sack (snow peas). Add in any leftover seeds from other years, various jars of seed that I saved myself, and we end up with well over 600 different containers of seeds.That’s a lot of seed to deal with and to keep organized!

Proper storage is necessary to keep the seeds viable 

Cool and dry storage being the most important conditions. We keep the seeds in our workshop in small, plastic shoe boxes. A label on the lid notes what seeds are inside. These plastic boxes are then stored in larger plastic bins all with secure lids. This keeps them dry, clean & safe from curious animals (ie cats, or even mice – in case the cats are not doing their job!).And there the seeds wait until it’s time to plant them.

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What have you learned from Ron Thiessen a commercial grower that will help you to organize your garden this year?

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

 

Paper or Electronic To Do Lists, What Keeps You Organized?

Check Your List

People have tried to find electronic solutions for most things that used to be done by paper.  However would a paper To Do list work better for you than an electronic one?  Here is a thought provoking blog post on the topic.  Which ever system works best for you, you must check your list. People will make lists but not look at them.  Use a system that keeps your to do list on your mind.

Why the Old-School Paper To-Do List Is Superior as a Productivity Tool (& How to Make It Work for You in Under 5 Minutes)
 There are lots of styles of To Do Lists, let me help you find the one the works for you during an in person or virtual appointment.

 

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

Organize Your Valentine’s Gift

Looking for that perfect clutter free Valentine’s Day Gift?  One that says:

  • I understand you,
  • I want you to be happy,
  • I want to make your life easier

 

Great Valentine's Ideas

Let’s get organized

Contact Julie if you need help making this happen.

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

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