When I got married, I used most of the financial gifts we received to purchase a beautiful service of Arzberg crockery. A big set, 12 of everything along with soup tureens, platters and serving dishes. A very expensive service. A very special service. A service which we have used every day since. We have lost items along the way – dropped plates, chipped dishes and badly scratched platters. We are down to uneven numbers of plates and side plates, and a half dozen pudding bowls.

We probably would have most of the collection today, if we only brought it out on special occasions like birthdays and holidays. Instead, we enjoyed using it every day, and have 25 years of memories of wonderful times around our dinner table with friends and family!

I spend most of my working days in my client’s homes, assisting them with the business of downsizing and decluttering. And in most homes, I find everyday crockery and glasses, and then tucked away in a cupboard that is seldom opened I find the “SPECIAL” crockery and glassware that only comes out on high days and holidays. The reasons are usually they are afraid of spoiling these items, or they are wanting to pass them down to their children.

Why? What good do these items do, what joy do they bring you if you keep them locked away in a cabinet to be used on a few special occasions each year. They are yours to enjoy, yours to appreciate and admire and you should be doing that all the time. What’s more special than using something beautiful every day?

And if I haven’t convinced you to unpack granny’s heirloom service or crystal glasses here are 5 more reasons you should:

  • You need less storage space as you use the good tableware daily and therefore won’t need space for a second set of crockery.
  • You are using something beautiful and special daily. Do you need another reason?
  • There is no longer guilt at not using the beautiful set that has been languishing at the back of a cupboard.
  • The best way to say thank you for a gift or heirloom is to use it and enjoy it.
  • If you bought it, you get far more value using it every day, rather than a few times as year.

And don’t stop there… Dig out the best table linen, wear the jewellery often, use the perfume liberally!

Life is short!

Every day should be a special occasion!

Friday, 06 April 2018 04:49

5 Favourite Downsizing Tips!

Are you downsizing to a smaller home, moving to a retirement community or simply overwhelmed by all your stuff?

We assist clients with the difficult task of downsizing all the time. Most of them struggle to let go years of accumulated treasures, collections, and possessions. But usually as we progress the task gets a little easier each time.

Wanting to declutter is a great start. Now all your need are some tips and a good plan to get you going.

These 5 tips could help you:

  • Have an end goal. There is a reason you want to live with less stuff. Focus on that goal as you sort through your things. Keep that goal in mind when you find it difficult to let something go.
  • Don’t rush the process. Remember it took time to accumulate all your possessions. Decluttering and letting go will take time too.
  • Just in case is wasted space. Often, we hold onto things because we think we might need the items one day. Think about your new lifestyle and new space.
  • What is the likelihood of you needing these items? Think about who could benefit from them and donate them.
  • Looking for a quick start? Go through your kitchen cupboards and clear out all expired foodstuffs. Then clear out all items that you would definitely do not use. Do the same with your bathroom cupboards and medicine chests. You will be amazed at how much you get done, how much space you clear, and how good it feels. Hold onto that feeling at you move on to other spaces.
  • Tackle the easy spaces first – laundry cupboards, the drawer filled with old electronics and chargers, your underwear drawers. Leave the sentimental things until you are feeling strong, and good about the process.
    Remember that decluttering is not organising. Your mission is to let go and get rid of stuff. This is not the time to go out and buy storage containers!

Remember this all takes time and effort. While decluttering is time consuming and can definitely be tiresome, it is hugely rewarding. Each step is a step closer to your goal. Celebrate your decluttering successes. Pat yourself on the back, relax with a good cup of tea, go for a walk or meet a friend for coffee.

You deserve it!

I posted this towards the end of last year when I was rundown and sick on and off for a month: 

“SO, going forward I am not going to be so busy, that I don't take care of myself. I am going to take mini breaks, I am going to make time for coffee with girlfriends, I am going to make tea in my teapot and sit and drink it quietly, I am going to work on ticking off my bucket list. From today, not next week, not in the new year...TODAY!”

Since then, I have made some defining changes, small things, habits that individually don’t make a huge difference, but collectively have added hugely to my quality of life. Hey, I have a good life, actually a great life and these changes just make it even better!

Here are the 5 small changes I made in January:

1. Before I rush out the door to work, I take time to sit down and eat breakfast. No more eating on the run!
2. I make a conscious effort to be courteous in traffic. Not a biggie, but I certainly get to my destination happy and relaxed.
3. Once home in the afternoon, I make a pot of tea (in my favourite teapot) and sit outside for 5 minutes before I start the chores of the evening.
4. I go to Pilates once a week. I have been promising to start for a few years now, and finally did it. I am looking forward to a stronger, more supple body soon!
5. No more coffees on the run. If I cant sit down to enjoy a cup of coffee, I opt for a glass of water instead.

As I said, not huge changes, but huge benefits!

I somehow feel full for longer, and don’t get hungry as quickly. My body is getting stronger every week. I savour my coffee and tea. I no longer feel frazzled in traffic (well most of the time).

My point is, lets work on being less busy. Let’s work on enjoying the small things in our lives. Lets get UNBUSY!

Many of our clients are elderly, who are often anxious, upset and sad. In many cases they are frail and are not able to manage physically. Some are keen to move, some feel they are being forced by family, finances or circumstances. All in all, it’s a very stressful time for them and their families.

One of our newest clients is a lovely woman of 87, who suddenly became frail and unable to live alone. She is going to live with her daughter, who wants to take care of her. We met recently to chat about the process, and put a plan in place. Afterwards, the daughter and I chatted a bit. She was frustrated at the resistance from her mom, but also upset with herself for being so impatient! I assured her, she and her mom were not unique. Most families we work with feel the same.

Remember, moving isn't easy for anyone. It is physically exhausting and emotionally overwhelming. 

Here are 10 tips to get you all through ready for the big move day:

  1. Be sensitive to the relative moving. 
  2. Start early, and give them enough time to work through the process.
  3. Work out a plan and a timeline for them. 
  4. Allow them time to reminisce and grieve the loss of their home and their belongings. 
  5. Be understanding if they are upset. Take time to sympathise and console.
  6. Take time to share memories as they go through photos, letters, memorabilia. It’s an important step to letting go!
  7. Remind yourself that its their stuff, not yours. Things they hold dear might seem trivial, or unnecessary to you. Be respectful of their decisions to keep certain items.
  8. Don’t force a decision. You will need to with bigger items (the large ornate dresser that won’t fit in the new home), but allow some of the smaller items to go with them, and they can decide once there. 
  9. Do not toss things without their consent. Your relative is already feeling a lack of control. It is so important to let them make decisions, however small. A bookmark might mean nothing to you, but holds memories for them.
  10. While its great to have some new stuff, its so important to have their favourite and familiar things in their new home. Your relative is giving up so much. Make sure they have their favourite things around them.

Be firm with a huge dose of kindness and understanding. This stage is key to a less stressful, happier transition for all concerned! 

Have you assisted an elderly relative move? Do you have more tips for us?

“Possessions aren’t treats, they’re responsibilities” Wow, what a revelation! This line from a blogpost I read recently jumped out at me and makes so much sense.

I am working towards a simpler life, a life filled with pleasures big and small, filled with quiet moments and great adventures, time spent with family and friends. But I am not shirking work or ignoring my responsibilities. I love my work, but I could do with fewer responsibilities. And the best place to start is fewer possessions!

Think about it. We have a home, furniture, appliances, ornaments, family heirlooms, jewellery, linen, clothes and just general stuff. We have to take care of all of this. Clean, dust, wash, iron, protect, organise, store and maintain all of this. It takes time, effort, energy and money. So, having less means less to take care of, giving us more time, energy and money to do the things we would love to do.

Do you want fewer responsibilities and more fun?

Start with your stuff.

Here are 4 ways to less stuff:

  1. Ditch the duplicates.

This is a Professional Organiser favourite. Why have 2 graters when 1 will do? Do you need 5 sets of linen for the guest room? Go room by room, cupboard by cupboard and drawer by drawer. Remove all extras, all unnecessary duplicates, all appliances you never use, clothes that no longer work for you. Tackle the stationery, the toolbox, the garden shed and garage (if you have one), and all those top cupboards where you stash stuff. Now bite the bullet and get rid of it. Give away to family and friends in need, find a worthy cause and donate, and finally sell if you need the money. How does that feel? Lighter? Brighter?

  1. Stop shopping.

Easy peasy for me. I don’t like shopping! But this could be difficult for you. So, stop temptation in its tracks. Only shop when you need to. Don’t shop for fun, rather have coffee with a friend. Go armed with a list and stick to it. Know where you are going to shop, head straight there and head out once done. Keep the goal in mind: less stuff = more fun!

  1. Storage is not the answer!

Almost all new clients ask if they need to go out and buy containers before we start clearing and sorting. I always answer with an emphatic NO! Firstly, you don’t know what you need until you are done sorting, clearing and decluttering. Second, I like to try and use what the client has and avoid buying more stuff. Quite often we think organising is the answer, but actually letting go is the real answer! So, avoid the storage stores unless absolutely necessary.

  1. Bigger is not better

A home with loads of cupboards and storage space is not the answer. We don’t want more storage space for more stuff to take care of. We want less stuff, more fun. If you do have loads of cupboard space, try keeping some of it empty. In our home, all the top cupboards are empty! EMPTY! So, try it, clear and declutter and leave spaces empty! Those shelves in the kitchen you can’t reach, the guest room cupboards, park the car in the garage, the list goes on!

I’m getting there, and I’ve been working on it a while. Start today, remember the mantra “Possessions aren’t treats, they’re responsibilities” and look forward to less responsibilities and loads more fun!

Wednesday, 14 February 2018 19:52

Do you use your favourite things every day?

I have quite a few favourite things! Pieces I like to look at, things I enjoy using. Wooden ornaments in my study where I can see them all the time, gorgeous antique champagne glasses I use every time I drink bubbly! Wonderful platters I inherited from my mom-in-law that are used at every dinner party, a favourite shocking pink pashmina, bought in Cambodia on a trip with my sister, that I use often when the weather is cooler.

What about you? Do you use your favourite things? Do you enjoy them regularly?

Or do you find there is so much stuff that you don’t get to use and enjoy your favourite things?
Are your favourite items packed away for fear of damaging or spoiling them?

Why have favourite things if we don’t enjoy them? Come on, why settle for less?

So, here are 5 areas in your home you can start with:

Kitchen: Declutter by letting go all the items you don’t really like, no longer work for you, are broken or chipped. Start using your grandmother’s china, your favourite wine glasses and gorgeous table cloths and napkins tucked away for a special occasion. Every day should be a special occasion!

Clothing: Donate your duplicates, the jeans that haven’t fit in a long time, and those impulse buys that you have never worn. Keep those items that make you feel good, that you love to wear and wear them often. No more “I have nothing to wear” days!

Jewellery: How much jewellery do you have? How much do you wear? Weed out the pieces that you no longer love or wear. Pass on to family members and friends, or donate to a worthy cause. Wear the pieces you love!

Ornamentals: Ditch the vases, ornamentals and other stuff out on display that you really don’t love. Display and use your favourite pieces, and enjoy your home!

Toys: do you find your children play with the same toys all the time? Those are their favourites! Go through their toys with them and donate those they no longer love. If there are toys they can’t part with, pack them away for 6 months and revisit then.

Life is short – let’s enjoy our favourite things every day!

Wednesday, 07 February 2018 12:05

To Do Or Not To Do – That Is The Question!

A couple of Saturdays back I had planned to spend the day catching up on a long list of chores and jobs I wanted to get done. I was going to do so much – my to-do list ready for action!

And then my niece and her new husband arrived! As I made tea I wondered how long they would stay, thinking of all the things I needed to get done. We chatted and drank tea, and all the while all I could think of was my to-do list and how the time was passing and would I still manage to get it all done.

And then it hit me, the chores could wait. Nothing was so pressing that couldn’t be done another time. It was wonderful to see them, and spend some time with them catching up! I didn’t get the opportunity often, and here it was, and I was wishing it away!

So, tea turned into snacks as we talked some more, and then snacks turned into an impromptu lunch of leftovers. We laughed and ate, and chatted some more. As they left a while later, I thought “How special! It was lovely to see them and I am so glad they stayed!”

Don’t get me wrong – chores need to get done. But sometimes, when life throws us a pause button, we should grab it with both hands, and enjoy those special moments that we could miss as we rush full tilt through our busy, busy lives.
Oh, and by the way, the chores got done and didn’t take that long after all!

Thursday, 25 January 2018 07:02

Financial Freedom is a Choice

Here we are at the beginning of another year. What better time to look at our finances and how we work with our money.

When I first started my business as a professional organizer I went to see a financial coach Linda from Linda’s Abundance. I thought I was going to get a lesson on balance sheets and income statements. Instead we talked about abundance and financial freedom. Something she said a number of times sums it all up for me: Financial freedom is a choice!

Some of these tips and ideas are Linda’s and some are mine and I am sure you have some too!

Financial freedom is a choice

• If you are able to, do what you love, even if it means earning less
• Give and donate where you can - spread it around and make a difference
• Observe the law of attraction. Be clear about what you want to attract
• Be accountable to yourself about your money
• Plan a budget and stick to it
• SAVE, SAVE, SAVE

Ways to save

• Keep a minimum balance in your account
• Use banking loyalty points to pay banking fees
• Shop around for better banking rates and options
• Use your credit card as long as you keep it in credit
• Check and update short term insurance regularly

Priceless pleasures

• Invest in small pleasures: Go up Table Mountain, browse in a flea/farmers’ market, go to the theatre or a movie, take a walk in the country…
• Invest in everlasting memories: Family holidays, road trips, camping…
• Invest in social pleasures: Have friends for a meal, meet girlfriends for coffee, join a book club or dinner club…

How much is enough?

• Enough is somewhere between too little and too much
• Enough is being able to afford your desired lifestyle without getting into debt
• Enough is being content with what you have

Financial freedom is a choice, your choice!

Thursday, 25 January 2018 06:48

Start Your Year Sorted and Organised

So, all the festivities are over, the guests have left, and your home is looking a little disorganised. You would like to get sorted and organised before the year begins in earnest but where do you start?

First things first: have a plan.
Decide on one space. Choose the area that bothers you the most. Break the project down into manageable pieces. Estimate how much time you will need. Now set the time aside in your diary! Make sure you have no distractions.

Now to action

Take time to look at the space, and think about how you would like it to look. Make sure you have everything you need before you start. Black bags for rubbish, clear bags for recycling, and four boxes (marked “Donations/sell”, “put away elsewhere”, “store” and “maybe”), markers, tape, labels and cleaning materials
Now start in one corner and work clockwise, working from top to bottom. Attack what you can see first, then open cupboards, working methodically through each shelf and drawer. Work round the room, and avoid zigzagging. Don’t skip a spot.

Decisions, decisions…

Touch each item and make an immediate decision – do I want it/Do I need it/do I have a better one/What is the worst thing that can happen if I don’t keep it? Identify what’s important to you. Decide what you can live without and let it go.
If you are keeping the item decide where it is going. Everything else should go in one of the boxes or bags... Don’t be distracted by things that belong elsewhere. Place in PUT AWAY ELSEWHERE box and carry on. If you can’t make a decision about an item, put it in the ‘maybe” box. Be prepared to make more of a mess before things look better. Once done, and the bags and boxes are removed, you will see the progress.

Putting it back together

Before you start putting things back, give everything a good clean. Now decide where things should go. Organise in a way that is natural to you. Group like items together and divide the space into zones. For instance, in a kitchen you would keep all pots and pans nearest the stove, all foodstuffs together, all glassware together and so on. Now think about storage containers. Do you have anything in your home you could use? If not, make a note and go shopping later. Choose storage containers that are both attractive and practical.

Before you run out of energy

When you are done move all the boxes and bags out. If you have items to sell, decide how you are going to do that. Immediately take the donations box and recycling bag to your car! Put the rubbish bag in your bin. Take PUT AWAY ELSEWHERE box and return items to where they belong. Go through the “maybe” box and deal with the contents quickly. If you really struggle, seal the box, label it and store it. Make a note in your diary for six months down the line and revisit the stored box. You will probably find you will be able to let go most of the contents at a later date!

Now your space is sorted.

Have a good look at your new sorted space. How does it look? How does it make you feel? Do you need to do anything more, or can you call it a day. If so, reward yourself. You did it, you got sorted and you should be really proud of yourself!

How to keep it that way

Set aside time twice a year to go through your home. Revisit each room and repeat the process. It should be a lot quicker next time round.

Here’s to a sorted and organised year!

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Email: judith@allsortednow.co.za 

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