BYOB, Bring your own bag.

There is a new $.07 cent bag tax being implemented in 12 major US cities. We Chicagoans will have to adjust to bringing our own bags to any retail store, especially to the local grocery market where we’ll need them the most. “The Checkout Bag Tax is imposed on the retail sale or use of checkout bags in Chicago” (see link).

http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2017/01/31/chicago-s-7-cent-bag-tax-start-feb-1

We may have a difficult time remembering to bring reusable shopping bags or get frustrated with the added cost, however, this new policy will force us to find new sources for our bags. It will be time to make use of the trusted reusable shopping bag. I recommend having them accessible by leaving them in your car or keep a small folded type bag in your purse.The benefit will be that those piles of plastic bags we own will finally be significantly reduced. There will no longer be piles of plastic bags that fill an entire kitchen cabinet. The opportunity to get rid of this bag hoarding habit will now make way for something practical or essential like pots and pans. We’ll have extra space on a shelf or in the pantry.

If you still find yourself overwhelmed by the overflow of bags in your kitchen, consider reducing them to only a handful and put them in a bin of their own. Get creative and make a dispenser, placing them in your pantry, a shelf or cabinet to store them in.

When you finish putting away your groceries, don’t just ball them up, instead, roll them up neatly so you have more room. I do this and it only takes me 5 seconds, tops. Consolidate all your paper and plastic bags, and put a lid on the mess.

I like most IKEA products for the kitchen. Their stylish and unique designs are practical and function well for containing anything.

#organizing, #organizekitchen, #reduceclutter, #clutter, #IKEA, #plasticbagchallenge, #mopdscom

Are walk-in closets overrated?

Walk-in closets are wide open spaces with shelves, extra hanging rods for clothes and lots of drawers. They can be customized to your specific needs.  For the most part walk-in closets are a must have in any new development and condo. People seek out the closet and they can even be a deal-breaker when purchasing a new home. Having a walk-in closet in your home makes you feel great. It feels luxurious. Its a sign of social status and means you have “it” together. Yes! You made it baby!

If you enjoy spending a LOT of time in your closet and use it as a luxurious fashionista’s dressing room it will function for you just great. You will benefit for having it in your home. But for most people I meet and work with, I find walk-in closets overrated.

I have come to learn from my experience as a professional organizer helping many individuals to de-clutter and organize their closet, that this kind of space doesn’t necessarily mean they gain extra square footage. I’ve discovered that in many homes, one can actually lose sight of how to use the master closet properly. The open space in the middle of the closet is mostly unused.  In fact, if not used correctly, it can even be detrimental to your closet organization. People will use this middle space to dump everything and create an avalanche of clothes or shoes. They find themselves buried under their piles and become so overwhelmed that they need help straightening it all out.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like the fact that these closets are open and spacious and created with the lifestyle of the modern man and women in mind. Having a walk-in closet is an obvious solution to can keep your clothes in order and tucked away from sight. Its a place to access what you need and the place to dress for success. However, it takes effort, will power and discipline to keep that open space free and clear of clutter. What should you do if you have such a room?

Walkin closets

  • First, make sure you are keeping only those clothes you love and use often
  • Keep clothes that fit and donate clothes that don’t fit properly.
  • Limit the kind of clothes you are holding on to for special occasions, like the tuxedo or evening gown for a formal event.
  • Use the best hangers to make clothes look uniform and tidy.
  • Designate a spot for the hamper and don’t let it overflow.
  • Do your laundry. fold, hang up and put clothes back in their place.
  • Remind yourself just because you see an open space it doesn’t mean you have to fill it up with more.
  • Stick to the boundaries of this room. If you need more space then consider adding a piece of storage to accommodate everything else
  • Hire a professional organizer to help you.

In the end, ask yourself. “How much do you need to own to make you happy?” Realize you have chosen to live in a home with this kind of closet. Its a closet filled with clothes, keepsakes and other wanted items. How cool is that? Yes, that’s cool!  Why not be thankful for that. Then ask yourself how much do you own that makes you feel overwhelmed?

How can getting organized help you go with the flow?

“Getting organized” is not the opposite of “Going with the Flow”. Its NOT an oxymoron. It is because you are organized that you can take the leap of faith and accept the “Flow” more easily.

The saying “I’m going with the flow” is something you may say when you are unsure of the right actions to take.

“No matter how much structure we create in our lives, no matter how many good habits we build, there will always be things that we cannot control — and if we let them, these things can be a huge source of anger, frustration and stress. What is going with the flow? It’s rolling with the punches. It’s accepting change without getting angry or frustrated. It’s taking what life gives you, rather than trying to mold life to be exactly as you want it to be”.ZenHabits

But what if you have obstacles or can’t think clearly? How do you know what you feel or think? How does one go with the flow when you don’t like the way things a “flowing”?

Did you know…?

  • Reports created by the National Soap and Detergent Association state that getting rid of clutter eliminates 40 percent of housework.
  • 1 in 11 American households rent a self-storage space and spend over $1,000 a year in rent.
  • It is reported by the U.S. Department of Energy that 25% of people with two-car garages fill it with too much stuff that they can’t park a car inside.
  • According to Harris research firm, 23% of adults pay bills late and incur fees because they can’t find their bills.
  • The average individual gets 49,060 pieces of mail in a lifetime, one third of it is junk mail.
  • Dealing with paperwork is the biggest burden for small businesses.

These are only a few obstacles that block the “Flow” in your life  and create in you an overwhelming feeling. These obstructions will clutter your mind with worry or disappointment.

Go_WIth_The_Flow

Try an organizing perspective. Take the time to assess your situation. Identify the problem areas. Clearing out your clutter in your home or office will create the right frame of mind for better decision making.

What’s the top motivator to get organized?

While stress and suffering consequences are major motivators they’re surprisingly NOT the top reason people start organizing. Instead, its the decision to host a special event at one’s home motivates a person to take charge of their clutter.  We recommend to take charge sooner then later. Don’t wait to be pressed to do it. Doing something everyday is empowering and helps you feel more confident to go with the “Flow” for the right reasons.

 

 

 

Is the pain you’re suffering caused by disorganization or is it just your chair?

Disorganization causes stress, lack of focus, missed appointments, but are you also causing physical pain the way you are working at your desk?

When we research the words Ergonomics and Ergonomic we discover the dictionary description.

ergonomics er·go·nom·ics:
 n.
 The applied science of equipment design, as for the workplace,
intended to maximize productivity by reducing operator
fatigue and discomfort.
ergonomic: 

adjective

1. of or relating to ergonomics

2. designed to minimize physical effort and discomfort, and
hence maximize efficiency.

What does this mean for you in your every day working life?  why is it important to consider its affects on you?  Creating an ergonomic healthy environment will help you stay healthy, save energy and become more focused and productive.

Poor ergonomics leads to frustrated and fatigued workers that don’t do their best work. To prevent injury, we often read in health articles or listen to our Chiropractor telling us to sit up straight especially when working at your desk more then 8 hours a day. Moving away from your desk and excercising to help circulate blood flow are also helpful techiniques to prevent carpel tunnel syndrome and other musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

“Adapting tasks, work stations, tools, and equipment to fit the worker can help reduce physical stress on a worker’s body and eliminate many potentially serious, disabling work- related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).”

How does it work?

  1. Ergonomics improves productivity. The best ergonomic solutions will often improve productivity by designing a job to allow for good posture, and less exertion.
  2. Returning to a natural state of health. With less attention to any physical pain, attention gets redirected on the task at hand and productivity.

MOP_RTB_Workstation

Clients working with us receive 10% off at the “Relax The Back” Store in Chicago. Contact us to help you set up your office. 

Don’t blame the maid.

Has it ever happened to you that you couldn’t find something you use, whether at home or at work? Have you spent numerous hours looking for something you needed?  Do you find yourself thinking …”you swear you knew where you left it last”? Or Do you discover your stuff in odd places? Living in a home with other people can cause aggravation even if only for organizational reasons.

We recently saw the movie “Enough Said” starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini. Its a sweet movie (RIP Gandolfini). But that is another blog posting. For now I want to point out a part In this movie that sparked a thought. There is a scene at the end of the film where the couples are having dinner together at a friend’s home.  A maid is working in the kitchen. The hostess (played by Toni Collette) finds a softball inside the kitchen drawer where the utensil are kept. What? Yea, everyone is asking what is it doing there? A conflict develops between the hostess and the maid. The woman is accusing the maid of not doing her job properly. Long story short, the maid gets fired. Only to find out later, that the friend (played by Juila Louis-Dreyfus) admits she put the softball in the drawer. Whoopsy! awkward!!

Here the friend (Collette) comes down to the wrong conclusion and wrongfully fires the maid. People often find themselves feeling so sure of themselves in occasions like this that they forget to analyze the circumstances.

Trailer for movie “Enough Said”

First of all, its important to admit that the lost items are causing a problem. Frustration is felt by everyone. There is no clear sense of organization nor system in the home. There is no communication between the people occupying the home either. This usually happens when you are in the most need of the item or when you are in an absolute hurry and can’t afford the time to look for it. So, instead of blaming the maid or wrongfully accusing a spouse or child for taking it or not putting it away properly, try finding a reliable solution.

Having a system for your home is vital to keeping harmony. If you are scattered in your home then it is very likely you can’t find what you need when you need it. Getting organized can start by clearing out the clutter, then by creating a system where things should go.

Once your system is in place and all you need to do is maintain it, we find that a good solution for all this drama is to have a designated space, shelf, or bin, where a person can go to when they don’t have time to put an “object” away. That bin can be a delegated chore for someone in the household (spouse, kids, maid) to distribute the collected items and return them to their designated places. Let it fill up, empty it out and then start all over again. If what you are looking for isn’t in its proper place then the next likely place should be that bin. Problem solved and time saved = happy home!

Tidy Desk or Messy Desk? Each Has Its Benefits

Are you feeling creative? or are you feeling more generous lately but don’t know why? Your organizing style can predict how creative you are likely to be or generous you may be with others. Check out this article researchers at the University ofMinnesota published in the Psychological Science,  a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.  Tidy Desk or Messy Desk? Each Has Its Benefits – Association for Psychological Science.

Clean rooms led a person to be more charitble given the opportunity, while the people of messy rooms showed more innovation and creativity.

Do you find yourself having a creative day and simply having writers block?  What is your style? and why do you think you work this way ? 

As organizers we don’t try to change who you are, but are there to help enhance and accentuate the positive. It is important not to let disorganization and chaos prevent you from being the creative person you want to be, nor become a generous person when the opportunity arises.  Preview our Before and After photos from our MOP Gallery to learn how others transistioned from a disorganized space to an orderly one.

Mercury Organizing Professionals: www.mop-ds.com

 

We met somebody fabulous today! updated…

Finding a favorite consigner is like finding your favorite electrician, handyman or something like it. A consignment shop you like can be like finding a new best friend. What a better way to make room for new things in your life then to get rid of old clothes. Some people confess to us that they just don’t know what to do with these unwanted items. They know they have good quality clothes but they may just be tired of them. Giving away responsibly is really their only challenge.

A consignment shop like “The Haute Spot” in Chicago is a great resource to put these clothes in a consignment arrangement.  In addition, if they don’t sell,  The Haute Spot will donate them for you and give you the tax sheet for your records. How cool is that? We find this service to be very helpful to our clients. As an organizer who wants to save our clients time and money, we are happy when they can earn some cash back in the process. Cha-Ching! Did you just get cash back for your next trip to the mall?

The Haute Spot has been nominated this month in the Time Out Chicago magazine. Check them out and vote for your favorite consignment shop.

UPDATE: Reviewing the Oct. 25th, 2012  issue of Time Out Chicago and discovered that our favorite Consignment Shoppe was selected in the Best of Chicago’s Consignment category. Congratulations Haute Spot!

Dinner is served!

I spoke at Dream Dinners on Damen In Chicago last week along with a friend who helps people organize and balance their financial life. The theme was creating a balanced budget. Some of the key points we discussed were the following: create a plan, avoid unnecessary spending, get organized, clear clutter, clear distractions, focus on your goal. Our tips and helpful perspective were hopefully beneficial to our guests. I think they left with some great ideas to take home to implement into their lives. When I was asked to be a guest speaker last week, how could I refuse? You put two of my favorite things together; food and organizing, and you have a happy person in me.

Dream Dinners

The real star of the evening, however, was Dream Dinners on Damen. They have a wonderful menu and offer and a whole new concept that helps an individual or family save time and money. Their concept is to provide you with an environment where you can prepare all fresh and healthy ingredients for a fabulous meal to take home. It’s as simple as that. You take home as many meals as you can handle. Once you get hungry and ready to eat, all you do is cook the tasty meal you prepared. You skip the shopping, the storing, the prepping and go directly to cook and eat. I really enjoyed this experience and having an option like this is so helpful in our crazy, busy lives. Did I mention how delicious our meal was? Dream Dinners is nationwide check out their website and see for yourself.

Today is Earth Day!

Its Earth day! This time year we dedicate a conscious effort to help the planet. We are borrowing this earth from the next generation and we should leave it better than we found it. Consider your carbon foot print not just in the larger scale but in the simple things we do at home.

Here are the top 10 things you can do.

  1. Save energy at home. Choose energy-saving appliances if they’re available. Look for Energy Star!
  2. Buy locally, or grow your own! Reduce air pollution caused by food and goods transport.
  3. Dispose of solid and liquid wastes and medications safely. (Are there paint cans sitting around?)
  4. Reduce. Cut back on the amount of ‘stuff’ that could later end up as waste.
  5. Reuse. Upcycle! Take something that is disposable and transform it into something of greater use and value.
  6. Recycle metals, plastics and paper.
  7. E-cycle. Recycle and/or properly dispose of electronic waste such as computers and other gadgets.
  8. Don’t litter! Properly dispose of trash and waste.
  9. When purchasing goods, opt for sustainable, recycled or reused resources. Choose items in less packaging.
  10. Pass on gas! Take public transportation, carpool, plan your day to reduce trips and vehicle emissions.

Where can you go to shop local? Try a garage sale, Second hand stores, Estate sales, Antique shops, Community Resale Events, Shop at Etsy.

Don’t think that our efforts won’t go unnoticed. Its important to know that every little bit helps.The more planning in your home or office you take to process through your paperwork and “stuff” you own, you’ll discover that you’ll have less to sort through on a daily basis. Why not dedicate Earth day to an effort that benefits you and your family. This will save you time and money as well. We can’t just think that it is a corporation’s obligation to find a solution for a better environment, we can take it seriously and do what we can as well.

“I Don’t Know How She Does It” – A Movie Review

The latest movie with Sarah Jessica Parker Called ”I Don’t Know How She Does It”  had mixed reviews but on the whole I thought it was funny and charming. I like this movie because even though it may have depicted the extremes, in many ways it was true to life. It’s about a busy mom who is working on life balance. She is creating priorities in her daily life for herself and her family.

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Life happens! and it is how you handle all those hiccups, without too much turmoil that  proves you can live with less stress and can have some fun along the way. In some cases its not about bad things happening, but about opportunities that you are presented with. How will you choose?  How do you manage to do everything you want?

So how does she do it?  From an organizer’s point of view, it really comes down to having one’s priorities in order, and making the kind of choices daily that takes you closer to your goals; for yourself and your family.

She does it by being organized, having a support system, asking for help when she needs it, and going for good enough.