Weigh Out

When you wake up in the morning, is your first impulse (after peeing) to strip naked and step on the bathroom scale, dreading its daily verdict? Unless you are on a juice fast or have been prepping for a colonoscopy, the numbers are rarely encouraging. Sadly, scales do not supply alternate facts. They provide the soul-destroying empirical evidence confirming that there are grave consequences to be had from eating too much Red Velvet cake.    Perhaps weighing yourself first thing is not the most positive way to begin your day.  Millions share your preoccupation.

We downsize and clear homes for a living, so we can safely say, apart from plumbers, we spend more time in bathrooms than most of the general population.  Almost every home has a bathroom scale. If the scale is in decent working condition it is on the floor. But like other categories of CRUD we domestic archeologists uncover, there is a tendency to retain non-working weighing devices.  Unused, broken and neglected scales tend to wind up concealed in vanity cabinets, the upper regions of linen closets or in overlooked corners of the cellar.  In other words, people shove them into anywhere there is room.

Body weight notwithstanding, we get the impression that today’s individuals are weighing and measuring just about everything. Just think of how many measuring tools you employ in your kitchen: measuring spoons, measuring cups (both liquid and dry, glass and plastic), food scales, wind-up timers and spaghetti portion measurers. Toolboxes abound with measuring tapes as do sewing rooms. Rulers reside within the home in multiple locations, from those that fit in a pencil case all the way up to the mighty yardstick. Everyone has at least one thermometer to take her body temperature and as well as an outdoor model mounted outside to let her know whether it is worth going out in the elements. You may own scales specifically for weighing your luggage before you get to the airport to ensure your suitcases make it on the plane minus an extra charge. Got a car? Guess you have a gauge to test tire pressure. In summary, there is a good deal that can possibly go.


CRUD Challenge

Thanks to fitness tracking technology we now have within reach, the ability to compute the number of steps we take within a day, calories burned, stairs climbed, heart rates and get directions, from a single device worn on the wrist. Why not add functionality that could monitor your clutter quotient? We wish we could equip our clients with Clutter-o-Matics.  Ideally, their sensors would detect when storage is becoming unmanageable, items are duplicated, when drawers and cabinets exceed their capacity, and when there is no place to sit. A deluxe version would come with special features that alert you whenever donation or recycling trucks are in your area. These models would be armed with special GPS designed  for garage sale avoidance. We can always dream.

Allow us to make a prediction here. Measure for measure, once you have culled through this diverse category, your storage vacancy rate will improve. In the meantime a bit of elbow grease should be applied  to expunging duplicates that essentially calculate the same thing. Don’t be too overzealous. Leave the working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in place. One more thought. If you are serious about losing weight, close the laptop, get up from the couch and start  finding and boxing up the excess weighing and measuring tools  for donation or recycling. Use your fitness tracker to monitor how many calories you burn from this activity.

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Oral Hijinks

Look Ma, no cavities! In this statement, we are not referring to a perfect dental check-up. A cavity is another word for a hole, void or opening. Our guess is that  open space is almost non-existent in your house, particularly in your bathroom. This is nothing to brag about. Bathrooms are typically not the largest room in your home, although there are palatial exceptions that afford room for double sinks, toilets, walk in showers, bidets, soaker tubs, medicine chests, vanities, and free-standing cabinet. We can always dream, can’t we?  Most bathrooms we see allow standing room for one person, a washcloth and shower cap. Thus, you need to be merciless concerning self-care products that overstay their usefulness. This brings us to the point of this blog. While it is commendable to invest your time and money in maintaining the health of your choppers, do you really need flavored, unflavored, waxed, un-waxed and stick versions of dental floss?

In olden times, people got by with a toothbrush, a tube of toothpaste and a bottle of mouthwash. This no longer the case. Floss is currently the next line of defense to protect your gums. Often clients fortify their oral hygiene arsenal with myriad devices like inter-dental brushes, tongue scrapers, picks and electric toothbrushes. Some dental care  products generally introduced as samples in goody bags provided by helpful hygienists after you have experienced a particularly humiliating oral exam.  None of these thus far even addresses the obsession with teeth whitening. If you are unwilling to give up coffee, tea and red wine in pursuit of a dazzling smile, you can skip this section. They represent the unholy trinity of stain and no amount of over-the- counter strips or those whitening trays filled with goo will give you the sustainable results you crave. Aging itself ushers in an entirely new category of oral care products to your medicine cabinet.  You will need areas to contain dentures, adhesives, special toothpastes and rinses for sensitive teeth.

CRUD Challenge

Stop fretting. This CRUD Challenge is easy-peasy. It’s a mini- purge you can do while you are waiting on hold with an airline, trying to change your flight. It will take about the same amount pf time as it does to whip up a Cosmopolitan to reward yourself after the ordeal is over. Grab your gloves and recycling bag. Start with the gnarly old toothbrushes with the bent bristles. Dentists recommend that you should change your toothbrush every three to four months, so you probably have many to peruse.  Don’t want to trash them? Lots of people like to use old toothbrushes for esoteric cleaning jobs. My favorite is employing your over-the-hill Oral B to brush your cheese grater before it goes in the dishwasher.

Throw away any toothpaste tube that contains less than a squeeze of the product. Don’t forget that toothpaste has an expiration date too. Recycle empty floss containers, bottles of mouthwash and dispose of any abandoned torture devices courtesy of the orthodontist. When opening drawers, be sure to check all the way in the back. This is the area where toothpicks tend to permanently lodge. Keep up with the great job you are doing to preserve your teeth for the duration.  Just keep the products you actually use. You can replace them when they run out.  Hurry up. Your drink is getting warm.

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Posted in C.R.U.D.

The Dollars and Sense of Working with Move Managers

Move Managers

It’s your moving day. Your anxiety levels are reaching epic proportions. There are so many details to remember. And, so many things that can go wrong.  You are worried about breakage, whether your furniture is going to fit in your new place, whether you will be able to find things when you get there and a million other uncertainties.  Even if you have moved umpteen times in your life, it is wise to expect the unexpected: traffic, broken elevators or finding an entire closet whose contents you forgot to pack.

Move managers take on the responsibilities associated with the logistical aspects of a residential move. They understand that it is more than taking things from point A to point B. Before a single box gets packed, move managers recommend trusted moving companies and request estimates. Then they help you decide what to take and what to downsize, taking measurements and creating floorplans and arranging for the distribution of unwanted belongings through sale, donation and recycling. In addition, they procure supplies that maximize the efficiency of the move and develop a step by step plan designed to keep everyone on track. Every box and bag is labeled with its contents and the room where it needs to go.

Moving companies LOVE working with move-managers/organizers because they make everything absolutely move-ready.  Without move-managers, movers may arrive on location and the person they’re moving might have packed, but they haven’t packed everything. Boxes are still open. Sometimes people use the boxes they get for free from the grocery store, they are all different sizes and shapes, some don’t have lids. All these things make it more difficult for movers to load trucks properly.

Once the unloading is completed at your new location, move managers are instrumental in getting you settled quickly. They apply their organizing skills to set up your new home so you can get back to managing other important activities devoted to family, work and getting acquainted with your new surroundings. Nobody loves moving. A move manager will make the difference between a successful transition and chaos.

Doing it right and doing it with move managers saves time and saves you money.

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What if Your Mother Found These?

When you were young did your mother instruct you to wear clean underwear at all times? Why? You could be hit by a bus and taken to hospital. She’d never be able handle the disgrace being judged a neglectful parent by the medical staff.  Emotional scaring aside, this was probably good advice.  You can’t be too careful.  Life is full of unexpected pitfalls. You may not want to think about it, but we are all going to die sometime. If you have made preparations for the inevitable like drawing up a will, making funeral arrangements and ensuring your life insurance is up to date, you might believe you have nothing to worry about. Our advice is to think again.  Most of us will not have the luxury of pinpointing the exact time of our demise. Consequently when the moment arrives we may not have taken the necessary precautions to empty our homes of potentially humiliating material. As organizing professionals with access to the intimate details and personal history of clients lives, we can tell you that everyone has secrets. You may ask why you should be concerned about damaging disclosures once you are gone. Our response is to reflect on the impact of these discoveries on loved ones and family.

Over the years we have stumbled upon vast collections of pornography, sex toys, drug paraphernalia, romance novels, compromising photos, steamy correspondence from former boyfriends and girlfriends, or their modern day equivalent: emails and texts, that did not make it into the recycling bins. Then there are the painful reminders that some clients refuse to ditch including paperwork from failed lawsuits, job dismissals, diary entries, business fiascos, suspicious hotel bills, IRS audits, rejected manuscripts, and even thank you notes that never were sent. Suffice it to say, if you want your reputation to stay intact and spare those close to you the devastating details, you should treat this quest seriously.

CRUD Challenge

Short of taking a sledge hammer to your hard drive, there are steps you can take now to mitigate the collateral damage. We are not for a moment professing that this will be easy. Because of the private nature of what you need to eradicate you probably cannot ask anyone to help. You might not remember where some of these bombshells are even located. Best to start small with desk drawers, file cabinets and night tables or wherever you tend to hide things like cigarette butts when your family thinks you have quit smoking, or your stash of M&Ms when you were allegedly on a diet   When you have extra time on your hands and no one is home you can conduct a more thorough search and destroy mission. You will sleep better knowing the no evidence will come back to bite you in the afterlife.

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Posted in C.R.U.D.


Sometimes the household clutter problem is not just volume. Longevity also matters. This category has staying power. Unfortunately for you, these long term occupants are not paying rent.  Underused and underappreciated gift-ware (UUGs) are classic examples of articles who overstay their welcome. Engagement and wedding showers supply a hefty amount of this CRUD (Completely Ridiculous Useless Debris)  responsible a good deal interior congestion. Those of us who took our first set of marriage vows several decades ago are among the most susceptible to keeping still unopened presents in reserve. Here are some possible explanations for the behavior.

  1. You had no idea of where they could be returned and now it is too late
  2. You kept it because you were afraid of offending the giver
  3. You cannot get to them because they are buried under 4 heavy boxes you can’t lift
  4. You were mistakenly saving them for your children
  5. You use them once in a blue moon
  6. You completely forgot they existed

Let us give you examples of the “once in a blue moon variety”: punch-bowl, chip and dip and fondue sets.  You may notice a common thread. All three are typically larger than a breadbox and are dredged up for entertaining at parties and gatherings. Each of the aforementioned also boasts at least one component that can easily go astray. What use is an oversized greasy plastic bowl minus the container for onion dip designed nest inside? Do you have any idea of where the majority of the fondue forks have disappeared? How many cups are missing from the punch bowl set due to breakage or re-purposing? Can you afford to devote that much room to clutter of marginal value?

CRUD Challenge

There is a high probability that these gifts loitering on top shelves or in lockers can be found in their original packaging. Getting reacquainted with boxes from stores that have been shuttered for decades may produce nostalgia of a bygone era. Don’t let that de-rail you. Treat the experience as a second chance to clear out what no longer deserves to live in your home. When you are examining your underappreciated gifts apply the criteria we outlined in the first portion of this blog. If you answered in the affirmative, use that as the impetus to donate, sell or recycle the item in question. Finally, don’t be concerned with hurting the feelings of the giver.  Either you are no longer in touch or she has no recollection of said purchase.

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Posted in C.R.U.D.

Athletes’ Loot

Doing regular exercise is commendable to maintain weight, flexibility, strength and mobility throughout your life. Fitness fads come in waves.  The 80s made aerobics a household word. The subsequent decades ushered in more fitness trends like Step aerobics, Pilates, hot and cold yoga, kick-boxing, spinning, weight training and Zumba. As our bodies age, we need to adapt our workout routines.  The high impact activities of our twenties inevitably give way to gentler hatha yoga or water aerobics, unless we want to expose ourselves to knee replacements in our sixties.

For those of you who are fitness enthusiasts, it should come as no surprise that every activity requires gear of some sort or another.  Compared to a decent set of gold clubs or high performance skis, these indoor sports represent a modest equipment investment and a low barre to entry (no pun intended). Even if the dollar value in attire and equipment is not significant, the volume can strain your storage capacity. As people who spend far too much time plumbing the depths of storage lockers, we can attest to the glut of underused gym related paraphernalia. If you are not inclined to part with the ritual objects associated with your past, timeworn exercise gear could be yet another category worthy of expunging.

CRUD Challenge

Note to self: stop channeling Jane Fonda.This is our hit list for the most unflattering gym fashions that need to go. Unless leg warmers are going to have a second coming that we don’t know about, we suggest that you begin there. Neon colored tights, head bands and multi-colored nylon track suits may require special handling. They need to be removed before your fashionista millennial children discover them. You won’t be able to handle the shaming.   Here is another. Leotards! Lest you plan on resuming your pre-pubescent career as an Olympic gymnastics hopeful, send them packing.

Now what about the equipment itself? Do you still have the ankle weights that leak sand or flop around on your legs every time you lift? Speaking of weights, those dumbbells responsible for your repetitive stress injuries should be shipped COD to your chiropractors and massage therapists. Do we need to remind you to give away the ab-cruncher purchased from a home shopping channel in a moment of desperation? Is yoga no longer a feature of your routine?  Say Namaste to the foam blocks, straps and the sticky mats you carted back and forth to the studio religiously a couple of decades ago. Do not overlook your idle collection of resistance bands, stability balls, pool noodles for aqua fit or the thigh master.

Don’t bemoan the disappearance of these relics from your closets. All of these items are available for use at the health club or community center.  Otherwise, if you suddenly get the urge to exercise, simply lie down until the feeling passes.

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Carry Nation

Are you suffering from storage inadequacy? Are you constantly lamenting the deplorable absence of space in your closets and cabinets? Do you fantasize about converting spare bedrooms into mini-warehouses equipped with floor to ceiling shelving and a forklift for easy access?  Stop wasting your imagination.  Save the money you are planning to spend on these imprudent purchases. Instead, take the opportunity to examine what is really responsible for the overcrowding.

If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I want to come back as a bag manufacturer in my next life.  Backpacks, tote bags, gym bags, beach bags, lunch bags, insulated bags, overnight bags, shoe bags, book bags, cosmetic bags, gear bags, duffel bags, garment bags, wine and beverage carriers, grocery bags and even recycling bags are in residence everywhere.  Environmental regulations have helped to curtail the blight of plastic shopping bags. Permanent eco-friendly bags have provided replacements, but they tend to accumulate. Moreover, it seems like there is a special bag for almost every human endeavor. Most bags are opaque, concealing contents from their owners, almost guaranteeing that what they contain will never be remembered or used

Even if bags are re-usable, they do eventually get stained, wear out or people simply tire of them. Just like every other category that requires periodic evaluation, bag CRUD necessitates editing.

CRUD Challenge

Reducing bag clutter poses challenges. Unlike other CRUD categories, such as make-up, jewelry or cosmetics, bags do not reside in a single location. Their whereabouts are usually associated with the items they are intended to transport. Lunch bags cohabitate with snacks or thermoses, swim bags room with masks and nose plugs and backpacks hang with camping gear or last year’s homework assignments. My point is that this kind of global search may not necessarily be accomplished in the time you have between episodes of whatever Netflix series you are currently binge-watching. You will need to dedicate the better part of an afternoon and possibly recruit other family members to help. The best part of doing a round-up and purge of this excess baggage is that you can use some of the unwanted to pack up other detritus  prior to calling your local non-profit for a hefty pick-up.

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