organization, paperwork, Uncategorized

Looks Are Deceiving

paperwork Ii

This picture may look innocuous for most people, but for some of my clients, this represents frustration and avoidance.

It’s the harmless actions that we do on a daily basis, those mundane tasks, that when not maintained properly, cause so much heartache.

“What’s wrong with a bunch of envelopes opened?” You may ask. Nothing, I reply.

Nothing harmful here, until you step back from your desk and realize there are dozens of envelopes in the same, partially-opened condition.

Maybe there’s dozens of envelopes. There could possibly be hundreds, thousands perhaps. Some are shoved deep in the recesses of your second desk drawer. Many are bundled together with rubber bands, stacked a foot high on the side of your trash can.

I’ve seen this situation before with some of my clients. Some are entrepreneurs who work at home. Others are those who are behind on bills, not because they can’t afford to pay, but because that bill in stuck somewhere in one of many piles.

The avoidance hits you, and the tinge of guilt creeps in each time you sit at your desk.

Take a deep breath. Exhale.

paperwork I

Imagine these papers on top of your desk.

Yes, you may have hundreds of papers, but they are in their correct group and bundled together, via a paper clip. You’ve decided to take charge of your paperwork. You’re halfway there.

Take another deep breath. Exhale.

docs

What’s this?

This is the part of your desk where the paperwork lay. Your bills, statements, and other documents have now been filed, shredded, or placed in your Inbox.

If you can’t imagine this happening, may I suggest a helping hand? If you live in the Central Texas area and are having difficulties organizing paperwork, let me know. You can also visit my Thumbtack account here to see my other work and reviews.

Thank you.

 

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hoarding disorder, housecleaning - general, illness, medical conditions, organization

Organizing for Special Needs Clients

Disability concept. Person with disabilities in wheelchair. Idea of disabled people. Blind or deaf, broken arm or leg. Set of colorful icons. Isolated flat vector illustration

Some of my experience with organizing comes from assisting the special needs community here in Austin. I have worked with amazing families, the hardest working parents I’ve met. However, their priorities are with their children, and so housekeeping and organizing duties fall by the wayside.

The societal pressure to maintain a “clean” and “organized” household is strong. I placed those words in quotes because none of us can truly define what is considered a clean and organized house.

A wonderful blogger I follow, Rob Gorski, is a father of three boys with autism. He is honest about life caring for his sons and his ill wife. I tip my hat off to him – he’s doing an amazing job.

Rob had a short but amazing article several years ago about the condition of his house. It was a mess, but he was OK with that. Caring for his sons was a priority, and if the dishes weren’t washed right away, it was not a big deal.

We all have our shortcomings (I love dark chocolate), but to feel pressured by others to do things that we cannot due to time constraints is wrong. But what can be done is to create shortcuts for the challenges special needs families face.

So, my gentle reader, here is the shortcut I offer to you. I would like to introduce Carolyn Dalgliesh. She has combined her research of sensory issues and organization experience to create an incredible system that can benefit everyone. Her book, The Sensory Child Gets Organized, has given me the tools to successfully assist some of my clients.

I hope this helps. As always, send any comments to AbilityHousehold@gmail.com . Thank you.

Uncategorized

No Shame In Here

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Many years ago, I visited my OB-GYN. I rushed to the appointment, but I made sure I showered before. However, I realized a few moments after undressing in the exam room that my right leg was half shaven and my left was as hairy as Bigfoot.

Apologizing profusely to my female doctor, she assured me with a calm reply. “No shame in here”. The exam went without a hitch, and it was as pleasant as it could be.

I’ve organized homes packed with clothes and knick-knacks from floor to ceiling. I’ve packed books that fell apart in my hands. I’ve cleaned not so fresh bathrooms and kitchens that haven’t been kept for weeks.

Most of my clients are special needs. Over the past few years, the majority of my clients are those with auto-immune conditions. I do not seek out these particular clients; it just happens. Those clients usually have some pretty bad days, weeks, or months.

Whenever I am greeted at the door with, “Sorry about the mess”, I smile and reply as pleasantly as I can, “No shame in here”.

 

housecleaning - general, organization

Miscellaneous Musings About Cleaning

What I love to do as an organizer and housekeeper is going a bit beyond what I was tasked to do. Some pleasant, some not, but all done to make peoples’ lives easier.

On one occasion, my job was to clean a client’s kitchen and dining area. I soon realized that she was in her bathroom, dealing with the effects of chemotherapy. My shift was four hours, but I spent an extra half hour sweeping the living room floor without charge.

There have been many little cleaning events that I remember and hold on to dearly.

Finding a handwritten note from my client’s toddler daughter underneath a dusty bed and placing it on top of a clean dresser.

Scrubbing that stubborn, unidentifiable stain at the bottom of a refrigerator that no one will ever see.

Basking in the glow with a client when I discover a jewel-encrusted wristwatch that was lost for ten years.

Verbally rewarding the owner’s caged dog in the corner for its silence.

Realizing the source of a strange smell in the pantry is an old, used diaper, and quickly tossing it away.

Enjoying a story about how the client found a long-lost relative via social media.

Little things count. They make a big difference.

housecleaning - general

Ode to My Oreck

© Creative Commons Zero (CC0) dreamstime_xxl_92143989

If cleanliness is next to godliness

But the road to hell is paved with good intentions

Then my path is littered thus so

Discarded scrub brushes

Unlabeled, half-full spray bottles

A Brillo pad, forgotten on the side of a bathtub

 

But you, my loyal electric broom

Triumphant in the utility room

I hear your mighty roar

And my heart doth quiver and soar

You truly, wonderfully, faithfully,

Suck.

organization

Preserving Family Papers and Vital Documents

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A lovely client of mine was very nostalgic – it was very difficult for her to let go of items that she believed were keepsakes. It took gentle coaxing to help her distinguish what was valuable and what was ready for donation, recycling, or disposing.

She was a bibliophile, but only of cookbooks. Hundreds of cookbooks, placed horizontally or vertically, caused some of the shelves to sag under the weight. The books had not been read in years, and moths had taken advantage of the dark, cool environment.

There were boxes of legal documents, personal letters, postcards, and stamp collections, some many decades old. Stored in shoe boxes, the materials were slowly disintegrating.

My primary focus was to separate, examine, and preserve the most important paperwork. Here is my preservation protocol.

  1. I found the coolest room in the home and cleaned the area as quickly as possible.
  2. I moved as many documents as I could to that location, placing the boxes about a foot off the ground to avoid damage from water leaks.
  3. I kept the area out of direct sunlight
  4. I made sure the temperature remained at 70 degrees.
  5. The humidity in the room was kept relatively low with good air circulation, using a dehumidifier during the hottest Texas days.

Once the documents were secured, I began sifting through the boxes. Many boxes had no labels and were disorganized. I separated and temporarily placed legal documents, personal letters, and other paperwork in sturdy boxes lined with acid-free paper.

Loose, vintage photos were placed in low PVC photo refill pages. Proper documentation and organization would be done later, with photos mounted on high quality paper.  All other loose photos were placed in tight fitting boxes that were customized to the photo’s size.

I did not encounter any important books that had odors. If I did, I would use MicroChamber paper to remove mold or mildew.

There were several newspaper articles the owner wished to preserve. I photocopied the articles and placed those chronologically in a labeled photo album. I placed the originals in acid-free, lignin-free paper, and labeled a tight-fitting box, “Newspaper clippings – photocopies in ABC photo Album”.

This is only a summary of what was done with the important paperwork. My protocol for the books and stamp collections will be discussed in the near future.

As always, please contact me at AbilityHousehold@gmail.com for any comments, or if you wish to discuss preservation projects.

hoarding disorder

Pics of My Clutter Project

Several years ago, I was given the opportunity to help an older couple clear out their 2,400 square foot home in Austin, Texas. This house was constructed in the late 1960’s, and was at the end of a cul-de-sac in a quiet suburban neighborhood.

From the outside, there were no apparent issues with the home.

But every single room in the house, including the garage, was filled with items. Three bedrooms, two baths, a living room, kitchen, kitchen dining area, formal dining area, and den had clutter. Clothes, toys, books, mementos, photo albums, and other household items filled the home, including the hallway (photos edited and adjusted for privacy)

The project took several months. All items were either donated, placed in storage, recycled, or disposed of. Very few items were disposed of – the house was air conditioned and there were no perishable items.

Slowly but surely, I made progress daily. There was some gentle persuasion to let go of most of the items, since the new home was smaller.

Eventually, the project was finished, and a complete remodel began. The couple is now in a less cluttered home.

If you are overwhelmed with clutter, contact me for a free estimate in the Austin area. I’m here to help.