Now, this is what I call a smart business decision. A home sale (or purchase), for most of us, is the largest investment of our lives and all parties had a well-thought out plan before debuting it in this competitive marketplace. The Seller spoke to their Realtor, who recommended they call me to declutter, organize and stage this beauty — before scheduling the photographer! Be sure to call Steve Hyslop at The Alliance Group for an up close and personal tour. Enjoy perusing this lovely home in Palmetto Hall on Hilton Head Island.
De-Cluttering and organizing rooms, closets and garages are not everyone’s favorite pastime. Personally, I enjoy the challenge and once completed, the before and after photos nearly say it all. The happy homeowners say the rest.
1. Where the heck do I begin? Ask yourself, ‘What is the goal for this space?’ A garage, for example, is typically used for parking automobiles and storing household items like a toolbox, ladder, paint supplies and garden tools. And it can even be a workshop. In other words, it can have multiple uses. However, each use
must have a clearly defined space. By specifying designated areas for all paint supplies, for instance, you won’t have to search the entire garage for a touch-up brush. Hint: If others use the same spaces, consider labeling first the area, then where specific items go within the space. This may seem fairly elementary, but it sure helps to keep things in their rightful place.
2. How long do I need to keep bills and other paperwork? One of the many great things about the internet has been the ability to gain immediate access to most stored data or documents. What used to take ions to retrieve is now virtually at our fingertips. Even our own ability to scan and store important documents on discs (labeling and filing in our own file cabinet) has made a paperless society a little more viable.
a) Monthly household (electric, water, etc) bills can be filed in an accordion folder marked ‘Jan, Feb, March,’ etc. IF the expense is related to an in-home business. If not, proof of payment is actually shown on each monthly invoice, so there’s no reason to keep all the electric or water bills marked “Paid” year after year. With that said, ask your accountant, financial advisor or tax preparer for advice before starting up the shredding machine. Should you decide to discard boxes of papers DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT just pitch them with your household garbage. Documents as recent as 10 years ago may still have vital identifying data like Social Security numbers and birthdates. Call a local shredding company where you can either bring the boxes to them OR they will bring the shredding truck to you. Either way, in most cases, you can watch them shred your valuable documents – box and all!
b) Some important documents, like Life Insurance Policies, Tax Returns, Divorce Decrees and even Death Certificates may need to be kept forever. Except for Originals you may need to safely store in a fireproof safe deposit box, most documents can be scanned and stored on a disc that takes up the space of a movie or music CD! Need 2010 Tax Return? Simply pull the disc marked “Tax Return 2010,” pop it in your computer, find what you need and simply print out the pages needed.
3. When should I just get rid of clothes that aren’t being worn? Ask yourself, ‘How likely am I really to wear this? Will the color be right? OMG, will it still fit?’ Go to
your closet and turn all of the tops of hangers in the same direction. Once you wear the article of clothing, hang it back up, turning the hanger in the opposite direction (toward you) and at the end of the month or season, pull items that have not been worn. Donate wearable clothing to a local charity or thrift store and toss all stained, worn out ones! You’ll be glad you did. Sharing is such fun!
People sometimes call me out of desperation, but usually they just need some basic guidance or advice in getting started. Other times they need me to actually do the physical work for them. Either way, motivation by a trained, intuit by nature can be quite powerful which is why my toolbox is filled with a litany of just the right things to do and say to get everyone moving forward.
My initial question is always: What is your ultimate goal? And that often leads to a barrage of reasons why they find themselves in their current dilemma. I listen for a bit and ask the same question a little differently: I see, but what is your ultimate goal now?
The answers nearly always include some variation of wanting to feel organized, getting rid of stuff they no longer need, doesn’t fit or they simply just don’t want anymore. Let’s face it, times change and so do we.
Take for example the following top three (3) items we can easily correct and control with little to no effort. This is not to say you won’t need help getting to this point, but make a conscious effort to think about each of these items consistently until it becomes a habit – a good one at that!
Mail – it arrives six days a week like clockwork. Don’t go to the mailbox until you have 5 minutes to deal with it. With the stack in hand, think JUNK, SHRED, PAY and SAVE TO READ LATER (like magazines).
Magazines – Set aside time to go through all magazines and decide to: READ, RECYCLE or RE-READ. Make note of those you may not want to re-subscribe.
Newspapers – If the newspapers are piling up because you’ve not had the time to read them, it may be time to stop the subscription. Consider getting it only on the weekends or pick one up when you know you’ll have time to read it.
Whatever your ultimate goal, it will surely be a tad bit different than others. After all, it’s custom fit for you and the needs of your household, because one size never fits all.
Here in the low country and on the island, we’re well into spring with blossoms bursting along side the bike trails and sidewalks. What a great time of the year to begin
planning and taking full advantage of one of my most popular de-cluttering options: Gifting Treasures. Of all the recommendations doled out to rid homes and garages of clutter, lots of valuables, and massive stuff, Gifting Treasures gets the most audible and delighted gasps by far!
Think about it. Our life story is really comprised of experiences through the places we’ve been, purchased pieces and even those long ago inherited items. The batik purchased on a trip after college through Southeast Asia; the silver bowl you received from your grandmother decades ago; the 12-place setting of Wedgwood china you and your honey got as a wedding gift; and even the baby blanket and shoes of each of the children help formulate individual lifetime stories.
Luckily, your family may have grown in size and when the children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews are all considered, it adds up to a whole lot of gift-giving opportunities. But how often have you heard, “No, I don’t want that old thing, Mom,” or “It doesn’t match anything we have” or even “It’s not even our style and besides its old?” When the grandchildren are around, you may bite your tongue a bit, but you may really want to shriek, “Well, of course, its old – it was after all your great-grandmothers!” Instead you simply nod and mumble that you understand.
We may secretly hope and pray that one day they will change their minds but hopefully before its too late and our coveted prize lands in the hands of someone, God forbid, not even related. Or worse, it ends up in a local landfill by ‘mistake.’
We know and understand all too well that each of these treasures is part of who we are. Each helped formulate and record and weave the circumstance of life creating our own unique story. And, as humans, we love sharing our experiences with others. It is after all our duty and responsibility to those who’ve come before us, isn’t it?
So, on your next birthday (or upcoming family reunion), why not continue to share your life with others and throw a party! Send out invitations, making it perfectly clear that NO gifts are to be brought. Instead you will wrap up, adding beautiful bows to some of your most beloved treasures, and gift these items from your home and life that you want to pass on to loved ones in attendance. If everyone lives far away and there’s no chance they’ll be able to make the party, either mail the treasure to them (if at all possible) or simply hold it for them until a later date – wrapped and a card attached with their name.
By sharing the story of the item in your own words in the note or card, this in itself becomes an historical record.
(Annie, because of your love of France and your ability to converse fluently in French, I wanted you to have this vase (or cup & saucer). It was gently cradled on the lap of my mother-in-law, Isabelle Monroe, on her plane ride from Paris, France to New York and given to us on our wedding day, June 15, 1950. She wrapped the vase in quilt batting and whenever it was stored or had to be moved over the years, I continued to use the same batting.’) Have each attendee read their card and you’ll be amazed at how little they may have known about you yet how much they learn about you and your life!
Just think how enjoyable this process will be and how easy it will be for you to let your most valued treasures go. Gifting treasures that have been well kept and loved over your lifetime multiplies its value when given to another loved one. Happy gifting!