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25 Organizing Tips to Survive an Ice Storm

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It’s been a bad winter. Really bad. Snow, ice, freezing temperatures for weeks on end have made life more challenging this season. Just like any other season, it’s important to be prepared with the tools to get through the changes in weather–shovels, rock salt, snow brushes, warm gloves and boots–the list goes on. My guest blogger, Moreen Torpy of De-Clutter Coach in Ontario, Canada knows a thing or two about being prepared for cold weather. Today she’s sharing with us ‘Southerners’ 25 ways to survive an ice storm. I hope we never have to use any of these tips, but they’re here for you just in case…

This winter has brought more than our fair share of ice storms and the resulting power outages, cold, inability to access transportation and all manner of other inconveniences.

After the realization sinks in that this might be a longer experience than you’d like it to be, after realizing you’re very cold will be the thought of what to do with food so it doesn’t become waste.

The following are lessons I learned from surviving the 1998 ice storm in Montreal:


1. Keep a few large plastic storage containers or clean garbage bins available to store your freezer contents outside without power. You can always chip off the ice to get into them when necessary.

2. Fill your BBQ propane tank at the end of summer so it can be used in case of winter emergency to cook whatever you have in your freezer, warm soup or boil water for coffee/hot chocolate/tea. Never use your BBQ or propane stove indoors. Set up in your garage if you have one, or outside

3. Use fresh food first, frozen food second and canned food last so you eliminate as much waste as possible. Cook whatever can be cooked when you can, then eat it cold if necessary. This will ensure less waste and provide as healthy a diet as possible under the circumstances.

4. Ensure you have a manual can opener and know where it is should you need it.

5. Don’t ever get rid of your fondue pot! It can be very useful to warm soup or water. Check now if you have fuel for it, and if not purchase a couple of bottles. Keep them with the pot so you know where they are.

6. Don’t cook anything that takes a lot of cleaning up, such as cheese. Remember, you don’t have hot water to do that right now.


7. Collect all candles and batteries from wherever you have them around your house and centralize them in one place. Inventory what you have and purchase what you still need—do you have D-batteries for your flashlight? C-batteries for your portable radio? What about candles? The dollar-store brand won’t last very long not to mention the mess they create when molten wax spills over. Keep something to light the candles with them, whether matches or a BBQ lighter.

8. Find any oil lamps you may have, purchase oil for them and keep them where they’re easily found when needed.

9. Find a mirror and put it with your candles. It doubles the light from lit candles as well as the heat produced. You might also toast marshmallows over the flames if you’re feeling adventurous. Maybe even assemble some s’mores!


10. Get used to the idea it may be a while until you can shower, shave or wash your hair. If there’s a shopping centre nearby with power, you could go to the hairdresser or take your hair dryer and wash your hair there. And perhaps even wash yourself as well. Hot water is better than cold any day for these personal care tasks.


11. Turn off as many lights and anything else electrical as you remember having on before the power failure and turn on your front porch light. This way, when the power comes back on, you won’t be as much of a drain on the infrastructure, and you’ll know immediately from outside if you have light.

12. Close doors to rooms you’re not using to keep any available heat in those you are using. This is a good time to congregate in as few rooms as necessary to take advantage of each other’s body heat.

13. Close off the entrance to the room where your gas fireplace is, if you have one, and spend your time there. This will keep the heat in that room and not where it won’t be doing any good.

14. Before abandoning your home, pour windshield washer fluid into the drains and toilet to prevent the pipes from freezing when your home has no heat. Also open faucets to allow a small trickle of water to help keep it moving.


15. Always keep your vehicle’s fuel topped up. If there’s no power, the gas pumps won’t work. Additionally there’ll be less space for moisture to form in the car’s gas tank.

16. Be very careful when removing ice from your vehicle. You don’t want to damage it by being too aggressive

17. Keep your vehicle’s trunk as empty as possible in case you need it to store used cookware that can’t be washed until you have plenty of hot water. You might also store frozen food in your car until you need it.


18. Keep an amount of cash in your home—bank machines won’t work without power.

19. If your local shopping centre has WIFI, take your device charger(s) with you and use them there. You might also hang out there with your phone, e-reader or laptop. The food court, while mostly junk food, can provide a hot meal if this is your only choice for one.

20. Don’t bundle up in all your clothes to sleep. I know this sounds counter-intuitive, however you will warm up faster under the covers with just your usual nightwear or just something a bit warmer on. If you share a bed, take advantage of each other’s warmth. This is a good time for all the kids to pile in with parents so everyone stays warmer.

21. Remember Fluffy and Fido will be cold too, so allow them to cuddle with you.

22. Be as active as you can to build body heat if you’re staying in a cold house, but don’t work up a sweat or you’ll be colder than you were before.

23. Keep your medical prescriptions up-to-date, not waiting until you’re on your last pill. If you’re stuck without power, your pharmacy probably is as well and won’t be able to refill them.

24. If you intend to join others (family or friends) to wait out the power outage, select people you get along with and can hopefully find the humour in your situation.

25. Try to look on the experience as an adventure you can talk about and embellish in future telling of the story.

For more about emergency preparedness, check out my FREE report, Emergency Preparedness the Organized Way.

What’s your ice storm experience? Do you have any tips in addition to those above? I’d love to hear about both your experience and your tips. Please share!

© Moreen Torpy
We would be honored for you to reprint this article. If you do, please include the resource box below with the hyperlinks intact.
Moreen Torpy is the De-Clutter Coach, a Trained Professional Organizer, Author, and Speaker. Her new book is Going Forward: Downsizing, Moving and Settling In. See for more about the book including where to purchase it, and to learn about her organizing services and other books.


Organizing Help for Back to School


Some of your children may have started school already. Some may still be anticipating the first day. Despite their start date, my guest blogger, Linda Samuels of Oh, So Organized! wants to make sure your child’s school year is a happy and organized one. Read on for her top tips for creating simple systems for getting and staying organized throughout the school year.

It’s that time of year. Leaves are turning, classes are starting, and new school supplies are flying off store shelves. The other day I came across an old pre-printed pad, “A Note to School from Linda Samuels,” which I no longer use since our daughters are in college and beyond. Seeing the notepad made me think about all the years of excited anticipation we had preparing for school to begin. Are you and your kids ready for the transition? Take a deep breath. Getting that organizing piece working for you can make a big difference in having your days run more smoothly. Here are my top tips for an organized, joyful school year.

Cycle – Giving closure to the previous school year helps us get ready for this year. Sort through last year’s school papers (preferably with your kids.) It’s a great opportunity to review what was accomplished and what they were most proud of. It gives you a chance to create a mini time capsule representing last year. Be ruthless when you sort. Save what’s important and recycle the rest. Store the “keepers” in a large envelope. Write your kid’s name, grade and year on the outside. Store the envelope in a larger container. Add a new envelope at the end of each school year.

Capture – Establish a place to put the current school papers as they enter your home. You can use bins, binders, boxes, or any container that’s easily accessible. As artwork, graded papers, or programs come in, put them in their designated spot. You might want a separate container for each kid. When the container gets full, you can do some editing. Then the “keepers” can be stored in their year-end envelope, as described above.

Classic Stockholm Magazine Files from the Container Store are helpful for organizing papers

Land – Create a place for backpacks, coats and notes to reside. When kids come home, they will know where to put their belongings. Cubbies work well, as do hooks. Make them easily accessible both in terms of their physical placement in the home and the heights that you place things. The easier you make it, the better chance you have for creating the “place it here” habit. Consider adding a white board or other communication center in this area to leave notes, messages and important items for kids to remember. Before bed, have your kids make sure that all needed items for the next morning are reading in the “land” area.

Center – One of the essential ingredients for school success is establishing a place to do homework and have school supplies readily available. When it’s time to do that science project, it’s no fun to have to hunt for the markers. Review your current supplies to see if there are any items that need to be replaced. Create a zone for the supplies to reside. If your kids like to move around to various locations for doing their homework, then put together a portable tote or crate to hold the supplies. Whether they prefer working on a desk, their bed or the kitchen table, the supplies can “travel” with your kids.

Pottery Barn Schoolhouse Craft Desk

Assess – Fall is a natural time to review clothing needs. Organize with each kid separately. Go through their closets and drawers. Remove any items that no longer fit, they won’t wear, or need repair or cleaning. With the “do not wants or fits,” donate or save for younger kids if appropriate. Make a shopping list of items that are needed. Remember that less is easier to maintain than too much. Factor in how often laundry is done. Especially if it’s done frequently, you many not need as many clothes. Getting dressed is so much easier and less stressful when everything fits, is clean, and organized.

Resources – This is the time of year when back to school tips and suggestions are abundant. Many of my organizing colleagues have great wisdom to share. Some of my favorite tips and posts are Lorie Marrero’s video about using a binder for organizing school papers and more, Leslie Josel’s Student Organizing Pinterest board, Clare Kumar’s 5 Tips for a Better Back to School, Helena Alkhas’ school paper organizing system, and Ellen Delap’s Back to School Tips to Organize Your Home.

Perspective – With transitions come new patterns, more to dos, and extra stress. Reminding our selves to enjoy the moments can be helpful. They go so fast. A few years ago I wrote a guest post for Working Mother, Moms’ ‘To Do’ Lists, about getting things done, parenting and appreciating the various stages of our children’s lives.

What are some of your favorite ways to stay organized for the school year? Come stop by to share your best tips and resources.

Linda Samuels, CPO-CD® is a compassionate, enthusiastic professional organizer and coach, founder of Oh, So Organized! (1993), author of The Other Side of Organized, and blogger on organizing and life balance.  In July 2013, Linda joined the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) Board of Directors as President-Elect. She has been featured in The New York Times, Woman’s Day, Bottom Line Personal, Westchester Magazine, Everyday with Rachael Ray, and Connect with Linda on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, blog, or website. Sign up for a free monthly e-newsletter with bonus tips at

Back-to-School: Tips on Creating a First-Aid Kit for College


We remember to pack sheets, electronics, and posters for the wall when kids go to college but what about medicine? Yes, there’s usually a medical center on campus but my guest blogger, Professional Organizer Heather Ahern of The FUNctional Home believes that preparing college students for minor medical issues is equally as important as preparing them for academics (I agree!).

When packing a student to live away at college, don’t forget to assemble a comprehensive first aid kit.  

Think beyond ibuprofen and Band-Aids when creating this kit for a dorm room. On campus the Health Services are often not available 24 hours a day and some things can be handled easily if the right supplies are on hand. Students need more than the typical pre-packed first aid kit that contains only one or two doses of medications and a few bandages. Also when stocking your own first aid kit, you can ensure the medications are your preferred brands and have a longer shelf life by checking the expiration dates.

A typical first aid kit should include the basic tools and equipment needed for cuts, bumps and bruises: 
Adhesive bandages in all shapes and sizes
antiseptic wipe packets
antibiotic ointment
sterile gauze pads
adhesive tape
hydrocortisone ointment
eye wash
instant cold compresses
hot packs
elastic (Ace) bandage

This kit will also be an extension of your medicine cabinet at home so it needs to include: 
Acetaminophen for aches and pains,
Ibuprofen for pain caused by inflammation and swelling
anti-diarrhea pills
antacids in case of indigestion
Benadryl for allergic reactions
seasonal allergy medicine
some basic medications for cold and flu season.
Athlete’s foot medicine may come in handy as well.

A conversation on how to use all these new purchases will be helpful for many students living away from home for the first time. 

Before my son left for his freshman year at college we took an unhurried trip to the drugstore. We walked up and down each isle collecting what he needed, discussing why he may need it, with an explanation on how to use it. Being in a new situation, having an altered schedule and eating different foods can bring on a variety of issues in the first few months that many students may have never dealt with before. Take some time to clarify why you included Imodium or Dulcolax for example and the difference between them. You may want to cover when the “kit” is appropriate and in what circumstances the Campus Health Services would be a better choice.

Purchase a durable box to contain all these supplies after you have amassed all the items to insure everything will fit.  

Remove some items like bandages from their original boxes and use plastic zip-top storage bags to save space. Be sure to include a copy of their insurance card, the campus health center’s phone number, the phone number for your child’s physician and a list of any known allergies to medication.

Remember all first aid kits need to be restocked occasionally. Check expiration dates and replace any used or out-of-date contents each year before heading back to school. This is a good time to do an inventory of your own supplies at home too.

Heather Ahern is a Professional Organizer living in Bridgewater MA
helping families and seniors “Make Sense of their Stuff and Create
Peace in their Home”.

For more information, tips and inspiration
visit  or follow Heather on Facebook at

Organizing Tip: 5 Things You Must Do After a Successful Organizing Project


When I complete an organizing project with my clients, I remind them to give themselves a pat on the back for crossing the ‘finish line.’ My guest blogger, Rashelle Isip of the The Order Expert, believes in celebrating the completion of a successful organizing project. Read below to find out the five things she wants you to do after reaching your organizing goal.

“I finally organized my bedroom closet!”
“I filed away that giant stack of papers on my desk!“
“The cabinet under the kitchen sink is finally tidied up!”
Congratulations! You’ve finally completed an organizing project. You’re a bona fide success!
Before you happily rest on your laurels, consider these five pointers to help keep your project a success and let you bask in the glow of a job well done for many months to come.
Plan daily maintenance.
Now that you’ve finally gotten things in order, don’t be lazy and let all your hard work go down the drain! Figure out specific steps to take on a daily basis to help keep your organizing project in order. For example, let’s say you finally organized your bedroom closet. You might decide to place shoes and belts back on their shelves/racks at the end of the day, place dirty clothes immediately in the hamper and fold and store/hang clothes right after the laundry is done to keep things in order.
Take a photo.
You’ve worked hard to achieve your goal. Why not make a record of your achievement? Snap a photo on your cell phone or digital camera for posterity and save the image in an easy to access place. Refer to your photo on any organizing “rainy day,” that is, whenever you feel you’re sliding back into your old habits or are undoing your hard work for a bit of positive reinforcement and motivation to keep things organized.
Plan a smaller organizing project.
You’ll probably be feeling very good after completing your project so consider using this feeling of accomplishment into another organizing project. Keep in mind that your next project doesn’t have to be the same size as the one you just completed and certainly doesn’t have to be completed that same day or week. If you’ve just finished organizing the garage, planning to organize the basement right away probably isn’t such a wise choice. Instead of going whole hog, keep your plans to a smaller project such as cleaning out your wallet.
Share your story with others.
One of the best things in achieving a goal is sharing your accomplishment with others. Thanks to social media, it’s easier than ever share information and stories. Share your success with friends and family via your favorite social media network or tool with photos and a short story. Who knows, you might just inspire someone else to get started on or complete their very own organizing goal!
Lastly, we can’t forget the importance of celebrating your achievements. Go out for a nice dinner, listen to your favorite music, buy yourself a small gift, relax with loved ones, smile, and of course, enjoy your newly organized space or materials!
Now to you…what do you think of the above? Have you ever given yourself a reward for an organizing job well done? Perhaps you have a reward in mind for the near future for an almost completed project?
Copyright © Rashelle Isip and The Order Expert, 2011-2013.

Rashelle Isip is a blogger, time management, and productivity consultant and professional organizer. She is founder of The Order Expert, a site featuring practical and creative organizing, time management, productivity tips, inspiration and much more. For more information, visit You can follow her on Twitter @theorderexpert, on Facebook at, and on Pinterest at

Can Organizing Supplies BE the Clutter?

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I’m always advising my clients to sort, purge and inventory their belongings before purchasing organizing supplies. My guest blogger, Moreen Torpy of De-Clutter Coach in Ontario, Canada thinks that sometimes organizing supplies that are supposed to help us are in fact cluttering our homes! Read on to see if you recognize some of the signs of this idea in your home…

Many times when I go into clients’ homes, I see they’ve purchased any number of organizing supplies and books. What they’ve actually bought is the dream of being organized, not the reality. This may seem a bit harsh, but stay with me for a bit.

Cubbies containing enough shoes to stock a shoe store isn’t organizing the shoes. It’s simply showcasing the quantity. Who really needs a hundred pair of shoes? My question is whether all this footwear is actually being worn, especially when there are large numbers of children’s shoes. Because kids grow so quickly, how do they even have time to wear all of them before they’re too small. In this case, the cubbies intended to organize are really contributing to the disorganization.

Empty bins stacked or not, intended to store off season clothes, are useless unless they contain something. Before buying bins, why not prune your wardrobe, holiday decorations, and anything else you intend to store, then decide what kind of storage is needed. Spending money on unnecessary bins adds to the clutter rather than reducing it.

Adding storage baskets to closets to hold clothing that hasn’t been worn in years isn’t the answer. I suggest weeding out items that aren’t being worn on a regular basis and reduce the number of storage baskets to de-clutter that closet.

Containers for gift wrap can be a trap. Paper deteriorates with time, so having a large supply, even if it wasn’t expensive, doesn’t serve in the long run. Carefully storing all that paper in containers made for gift wrap is often a waste of time, especially if you run out the day after Christmas to grab more gift wrap on sale to add to the collection. Decide on two containers, maximum. One for holiday wrap, and one for other occasion wrap. These will be plenty for a normal household.

And we can’t forget all those plastic food containers! Whether they’re fancy take-out ones or recycled ones (margarine, yogurt, etc.) or new ones, they’re still clutter if they’re not being used. A rule of thumb for food containers is to have only the number that will fit in your freezer. Logically more than that won’t be used because there’s no place for it. And I won’t even go into the containers with missing lids or the covers with no bottoms. The only thing to do with these is to get rid of them. It’s a well-known fact that they multiply behind closed cabinet doors. Beware the unattached pieces!

I’m not advocating adding anything to the landfill that can be diverted—just saying to think ahead and not bring them into your home at all. We can only repurpose so much in the existing space. To my mind, adding space to accommodate clutter is unproductive and wasteful.

So you have organizing supplies that have become clutter? What’s your plan to eliminate it/them? Please share your solutions—we’d love to hear from you.

© Moreen Torpy

We would be honored for you to reprint this article. If you do, please include the resource box below with the hyperlinks intact.


Moreen Torpy is the De-Clutter Coach, a Trained Professional Organizer, Author, and Speaker. Her new book is Going Forward: Downsizing, Moving and Settling In. See for more about the book including where to purchase it, and to learn about her organizing services and other books.

Evaluate the Past, Plan for the Future

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Resolutions. Goals. Intentions. Call it what you will–this is the time of year many people start fresh and decide what they want to do, try, or experience over the next twelve months of their lives. Today’s guest blogger, Professional Organizer Audrey Cupo of A Better Space offers guidance on reflecting on goals of the past and planning for the future…

With the holiday season in full swing and the New Year right around the corner, many people begin to evaluate the past year and start thinking about the future.  People think about what they had intended to accomplish in the past year and note the things that just did not get done.  Then, they begin to look towards the New Year as a time to reset some goals and plan for the future.

It’s a time for reflection and planning.

For me, I love the prospect of a New Year.  It gives me the opportunity to take a look at what I accomplished (or did not accomplish) in the past year, both personally and professionally.  It gives me a chance to re-evaluate my priorities.  Are there things I wanted to get done but did not?  Are the things I intended to do this past year still important?

The New Year gives me a chance to plan for the coming year.  What do I want to accomplish THIS year?

I have always been an advocate of writing things down.  At this time, especially, I find this true.  I like to take some time and make a comprehensive list of projects and “To Do’s”.

That comprehensive list then gets planned out over the coming year.  I pick my priorities, one by one, and work on them.  When something is completed, I select another.

You might have set some goals last year and found you did not complete them as planned.  Why not start fresh?

Do you need to do some home improvement projects?  Do you want to lose weight and be healthier?  Do you want to get your finances in order or get out of debt?  Do you want to improve a relationship with a friend or family member?  The choices are endless.

Do yourself a favor.  Take some time in the next week or so and reflect on where you have been and where you want to go in your life.  Start planning now for the New Year by setting some goals and create a list of the things you want to accomplish.

If getting organized is on your list, seek out the assistance of a professional organizer who can help you to set those goals and get them accomplished.

Enjoy this holiday season and the opportunity for a fresh start in 2013!

Audrey Cupo is a full-time Professional Organizer and sole proprietor of A BETTER SPACE based in Bucks County, PA. She specializes in residential organizing and focuses on helping busy moms and women entrepreneurs with home-based businesses get organized with her in-home services and her “U Can Do It” product line. To sign up for her free newsletter full of great monthly tips, resources and product reviews visit and for more tips, check out Audrey’s Facebook page.

Clearing Clutter Increases Success

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In 2007, Jack Canfield of ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ fame was the Keynote Speaker at the 2007 National Association of Professional Organizers Conference in Minneapolis. Since then, I have subscribed to his newsletter–this article came through my inbox back in April and I thought it would be perfect to post on my blog. Thanks for your words of wisdom, Mr. Canfield!

Clearing Clutter Increases Success

Our physical spaces are filled with dozens of minor distractions and irritants, such as stacks of unread books, scuff marks on the wall, and closets filled with unused items. For most people, these things are like gnats – annoying, but generally insignificant and easily ignored.

Rarely do we recognize them for what they really are – potent threats to our productivity, energy, concentration and peace of mind.

For those of us committed to achieving greater success in our lives, a cluttered physical environment produces three negative consequences:

1.    You feel drained. If there are things to do everywhere you look, your mind constantly keeps thinking “I need to fix that.” Eventually, you to feel drained, anxious, irritable, and overwhelmed. To cope, we have to put blinders on and overlook the distractions.

2.    Problems spiral out of control. We often overlook irritations for the short-term gain of being able to continue with our daily routine. The danger, however, is that some problems with grow worse with lack of attention. The chip in the windshield that could have been fixed in 30 minutes grows to a crack that requires replacement of the entire windshield.
3.    You miss important clues and ideas. It’s impossible to selectively numb out your awareness, ignoring only the minor distractions in your physical space while paying close attention to everything else. This is perhaps the biggest danger for success-minded people. Our most powerful insights often manifest in gut feelings, fleeting thoughts and subtle cues. Numbing out to our cluttered physical environments makes us oblivious to these clues, as well.

Physical Space Impacts Mental Space

Seemingly small irritations and distractions also have a dramatic impact on our mental state. It’s common for people who feel overwhelmed by their physical clutter to go into a state of resignation. When you have a sense that you can’t control the little things – such as quickly finding a stapler when you need it – then it becomes easy to tell yourself that there’s no way you can have the other, bigger things that you want, such as a better car, bigger house, prestigious job, or loving relationship.

The good news is that the same concept works in reverse. When you do recognize that you can control little things, such as the squeak every time you open your front door, you recognize that you can control the bigger things in life, too. Taking action to manage irritations, distractions and clutter builds your confidence in your ability to achieve success, regardless of form.

3 Ways to Deal with Clutter

There are three ways to change any environment: add something to it, take something out of it, or modify it in some form.

Go through your environment and figure out what is irritating and distracting you. Ask yourself how it needs to be fixed. Then think about who you might be able to delegate all or part of the task to. One reason that to-do items accumulate is that we feel like we have to do all of the work ourselves. One of the key strategies for getting more done is to master the art of delegation.

To help you move forward with this process, I’ve posted an “Irritations & Tolerations” worksheet on my blog. Use this tool to identify and create an action plan for handling your irritations and tolerations.

Next, scan your environment to identify elements that need to be removed completely, as well as items that can be brought in to increase the energy in your space. For example, you might find that removing the television or computer from your bedroom makes your sleeping space more relaxing and peaceful. On the other hand, you might find that adding a conference table to your office gives you an inviting place for creative work, while adding plants makes you feel calmer and connected to nature.

Spotting “Good” Clutter

Remember that all clutter is not bad. For many people, clutter is part of their creative process.

When in the midst of creation – such as writing an article, developing a presentation, mapping out a business strategy or creating a product – they pull out resources like books, clippings, articles and notepads. More artistic types might fill their work spaces with tools of their particular trade.

The litmus test to use in determining whether your clutter needs attention is how you feel. If you feel inspired, the clutter is serving you and contributing to your creative expression. If you feel contracted, drained, anxious or stressed, the clutter needs to be tamed.

Environments control us, but it’s important to recognize that as human beings, we are one of the few animals that can control their environments.

Jack Canfield, America’s #1 Success Coach, is founder of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul© and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success. If you’re ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at:

Downsizing and Freedom

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Thinking about moving to a smaller home? Maybe you just want to live with less? Today, I’m hosting guest blogger Moreen Torpy of De-Clutter Coach who is on a Virtual Book Tour with her book, “Going Forward: Downsizing, Moving and Settling In.” Read on and learn how downsizing can be a positive and freeing experience.

How do you view the concept of downsizing? Does it bring positive thoughts and feelings or shudders of fear? Have you considered it an opportunity?

It can actually be the opportunity for you to approach the rest of your life with freedom. The opportunity to decide yourself what happens to your belongings. Of course, some will need to be kept, but others can be passed on now to family and friends who value them as much as you do.
Consider inviting family to tell you what they would like from your estate “someday”. Tell them you’re not planning on going anywhere, just planning ahead. You might be surprised that each person values something different, and not necessarily what you believe they will.
If you can live without these items, give them to the recipient now as part of your downsizing process. If you still need them, be sure to indicate who should receive them when the time comes. You might add a codicil to your Will to this effect and attach a photo of the item so there will be no confusion in the future.
This can be the first big step, the key to your downsizing journey. Think carefully about what you will really need in the future. Will you really be hosting big family dinners? If you do, you could borrow the serving pieces or have the new owner bring a contribution to the meal using that dish.
If your plans are to move to a smaller home, apartment or condo, your storage space will shrink accordingly. This might be motivation to reduce the quantity of china, crystal, serving dishes, cookware and other related items such as the tablecloth for the large table that won’t fit into your new place.
Downsizing can be an exciting journey when you look to the future and how you can create new memories, enjoy new experiences, make new friends, and live without the heaviness of owning a large quantity of material goods. There is a great freedom to this. Use the golden key to open the door to your future and enjoy every minute of it.
What will you do to begin your downsizing journey? When will you begin?
© Moreen Torpy
We would be honored for you to reprint this article. If you do, please include the resource box below with the hyperlinks intact.
Moreen Torpy is the De-Clutter Coach, a Trained Professional Organizer, Author, and Speaker. Her new book is Going Forward: Downsizing, Moving and Settling In. See for more about the book including where to purchase it, and to learn about her organizing services.

Get Organized: Overcome Procrastination

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I was going to write a blog post today about procrastination but then I thought, “I’ll just write it tomorrow…’

Ha, ha, ha. That’s just one of many procrastination jokes we’ve all seen on a magnet or a bumper sticker. But, really–procrastination is no joke. It can get in your way when trying to complete tasks or reach your goals and it can mess with your self-esteem.

If you put the ‘PRO’ in ‘Procrastinator,’ then you’re in luck. Moreen Torpy of De-Clutter Coach in Ontario, Canada has written an eye-opening piece about what might be causing you to procrastinate and how to get past it. Don’t put it off until later–read it NOW…

Have you been raised with the admonition to not put off till tomorrow what you can do today?

Have you ever said to yourself or another person, “I’ll put this here just for now?” Then forget you left it there?

Do you postpone doing something because you think you don’t have time to do it perfectly? Then you begin to doubt if you ever could?

What can you identify in your life that leads you to procrastinate? Here are a few ideas and what you might do to stop:

Doubt: You doubt your ability to put something away where it belongs, or if you really don’t know where it belongs, assign a place for the item and always return it there.

Perfectionism: By putting off doing something because you can’t do it perfectly. Let go of perfectionism—it’s not worth the headaches it causes.

Overwhelmed: There’s just too much to do to, for example, organize your space. Refocus and break the project down into smaller pieces then deal with only one piece at a time.

Not in the mood: When will you really be in the mood?

No visible benefit: Does it fit with your long-term goals? If so, do it. If not, let it go. And don’t tell yourself you “should” do it.

You may have more reasons than these. Make a list and write why you feel you can’t deal with them.

Then forgive yourself for procrastinating. In 2010 a group of researchers at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario determined that by doing this, your negative emotions about organizing in the future will decrease the possibility of continuing this behavior. Basically, they say to get over it and get to work. How to do this?

Set goals: Make a commitment to a project to work toward. You can focus on smaller bits of the project so it’s more do-able.

Banish boredom: Beware of time stealers. If you’re beginning to feel bored, tackle a project so the boredom doesn’t take hold and pull you into procrastination.

Let go of perfectionism: As long as you complete the project, say organizing your bedroom, it doesn’t have to be perfect to be good. Give yourself permission to change your beliefs. Sometimes “good” is “good enough”.

Dismiss fear of failure: If you’re afraid to do something because you believe you’ll fail at it, procrastination will be happy to take over. And failure will move in with procrastination! That’s failure.

Discard fear of success: If you’re worried that if you do something well, you’ll always be asked to do it. Learn to say “no”. There’s no reason for you to have to do the same thing over and over again.

Think Challenge: When you see a problem as a challenge, your whole energy will change. You will feel in charge, encouraged. And procrastination will cower in fear of you.

Refocus: Change the way you look at things. Turn your thoughts from negative to positive and see how different things are.

By implementing these tips, you can eliminate procrastination from your life and vocabulary. You’ll be on your way to living a productive life.

Moreen Torpy is the De-Clutter Coach, a Trained Professional Organizer, Author, and Speaker. Her new book is Going Forward: Downsizing, Moving and Settling In. See for more about the book, and to learn about her organizing services.

Top-Ten Feng Shui Kitchen Makeover Tips


Take a look at your kitchen. Are the cabinets overflowing? Can you see your countertops? Can you find what you need when you need it? If not, you’re in luck. Our guest blogger and Feng Shui Consultant and Expert, Ann Bingley Gallops of Open Spaces Feng Shui  is here today to offer us the steps to take to create a kitchen that nourishes us in more ways than one.

Did you know the kitchen is considered the heart of your home, symbolizing health, wealth and abundance from a Feng Shui perspective?
The food from this room not only sustains you, but also fosters prosperity in your life. Creating meals and cleaning up afterward are important to show how much you care for yourself and your loved ones.
Your kitchen must be an appetizing place, which is why keeping it clean and clutter-free is so important. Sending this message of wealth and abundance will make your life easier and happier, besides!
Here are my Top-Ten Feng Shui Tips for making your kitchen into the “healthy heart” of your home:
1. Clean everything inside & out. And I mean EVERYTHING: drawers and cabinets, appliances, walls and counters. Shelves should be lined with fresh liner paper, and the floor will need a good scrub. This requires you to take everything out of the cabinets, leading naturally to step 2.
2. Assess what you really use. What do you use, need and love in your kitchen? As you remove things from cabinets and drawers, ask yourself, “When did I last use this? What’s what the likelihood I’ll use it in the future?” If you must keep an item you seldom use, put it on a higher shelf or into deep storage.
3. Clear the counters. Small appliances can take over your counter space, preventing you from having adequate space to work comfortably. So remove everything, wipe down all surfaces and replace only the things you use on a daily basis.
4. Put like with like. While sorting through your cabinets, make life easier by putting similar things together. For example, separate sweet baking spices from savory ones, and store coffee filters near your coffee mugs.
5. Adjust shelves to maximize storage space. As you put things back into the cabinets, separate tall items from shorter ones and adjust your cabinets’ shelf-height appropriately.
6. Use “shelf helpers” for convenience and efficiency. Anything from tray racks to lazy susans can make your kitchen easier to navigate and, quite frankly, change your life. Don’t forget to measure your cabinets and drawers before heading to the store!
7. Get good Chi energy flowing by making sure everything works. Broken things must be fixed and doors should swing freely. If you have chipped bowls or glasses, replace them. Be sure to sharpen your knives.
This is a crucial step in Feng Shui — things that are well cared for signify your intention to take the very best care of yourself, too!
8. Recognize the importance of your stove. The stove symbolizes Wealth and Abundance in your life. In Feng Shui, the stove is the centerpiece for the “Heart of Your Home.” It must be treated with particular respect. Keep it clean and use all the burners regularly to draw more positive Chi into your life.
9. Use mirrors to create more wealth. Since the stove burners symbolize Wealth, you can symbolically multiply it by placing a mirror behind the stove. This mirror will also reflect activity behind you, so you can relax and focus on your cooking.
10. Balance the elements. Four of Feng Shui’s Five Elements already exist your kitchen: Fire, Water, Metal and Earth. If Wood is missing, simply bring in a small plant, bowl of fruit or a picture of these. With balanced elements, your space will feel great.

Ann Bingley Gallops is a Feng Shui expert and the owner of Open Spaces Feng Shui in New York City. She offers private Feng Shui consultations for homes, offices and business, helping clients achieve their personal and professional goals by balancing the elements in their spaces. 
Her services include long-distance consultations, space-clearing and blessing ceremonies, and Feng Shui design with a modern, practical approach. Ann also works with interior designers, architects and home stagers to maximize the beauty and value of any space.
Ann practices Feng Shui with an MBA from Columbia University, a Practitioner’s Certificate from the Western School of Feng Shui, and Red Ribbon Professional membership in the International Feng Shui Guild. 

Check out Ann’s blog, Feng Shui Tips & Insights, and subscribe to her popular Feng Shui newsletter! Follow Ann on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.

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