Throw A Pitch-it Party

backpack

By Debbie Rosemont

Summer is upon us, and for many, graduation was a much celebrated event.  Graduations, from elementary school to graduate school are the start of a new chapter in life. As a new phase begins, it’s time to say goodbye to the old. Before embarking on the next journey, find some time to go through the stuff and the memories from the last chapter. Among all of the other celebrations and parties during this time, throw yourself a “pitch-it party” and get rid of the old to make room for the new. The same can be applied if you’re changing jobs, packing up one office to get ready for your next opportunity- a “job graduation”.

By the end of the school year, or time on a particular job, our homes and offices can become inundated with projects, papers, books and partially used supplies. Here are a few ideas for your “pitch-it party.” Before you dive in, make sure to put on some tunes and line up some treats.  A party isn’t complete without music and food. If it helps, invite a guest or two to party with you – more hands make for lighter work!

1. Old textbooks. Are you really going to need that introduction to forestry book ever again? Probably not, so pitch- it!  The same goes for many of the text books you purchased throughout the year. Consider selling them back to the bookstore during the textbook-buy-back time. You can also sell your text books online, or possibly donate them to a library. These ideas can be applied to books specific to your job as well.

2. Notebooks. Those scribbled in, messy notes probably only made sense at the time you wrote them.  Recycle or shred the contents of your notebooks, if you have a few important pages in the middle, scan them for safe keeping instead of keeping the entire notebook. Take class notes, meeting notes, study notes, hand-written drafts, lists, conference materials, etc and pitch them.

3. Artwork or other large projects. You may be really proud after getting an A on that huge end of the semester science project, but that doesn’t mean you have to find storage for it. Instead, capture the memory, and all the hard work, in a photo to proudly display.  The same can be said for projects you worked on for your job.

4. Supplies specific to a particular class, project or job that you just can’t see using again or are tattered to be useful any longer. Toss pencils that now only resemble stubs, spiral notebooks with only 2 unwritten pages left, dried up glue sticks, or things you purchased specifically for a class or project that you are now done with. Pitch them to make room for supplies needed in your next chapter.

5. Find homes for the things you will actually use in the next chapter of your life, or that you want as a keepsake. Did you graduate with a degree in psychology and plan to go into practice? Perhaps there are some books you will reference again during your career. Put those on your bookshelf. Can’t seem to let go of the project that brought you and a beau together, resulting in a marriage proposal? Put it into a keepsake box to pull out again on your Golden wedding anniversary.

Remember graduation, whether from school or work, is a time to celebrate your achievement and look forward to your future.  Make sure the items you take along for the journey will help propel you to success rather than drag you to disappointment.

How to Recognize a Good Fit

double rack

A Stylist’s Guide to Cleaning Out Your Closet

By Mayna Sgaramella-McVey

The hardest part about cleaning and organizing your closet is figuring out what to keep and what to toss.  We all have our ‘someday’ jeans we would like to fit into and clothes we are keeping for our weight loss or gain.  But do you really know what looks good on you and actually fits?  We asked wardrobe consultant and personal stylist Mayna Sgaramella for her expert advice.

Recognizing Fit

Start with good posture, in a well lit room, in front of a full length mirror.  When trying items on ask yourself these questions:

  1. Where does the neckline start? Narrow or wide openings will balance out the face and body differently, so experiment.
  2. Is your shoulder seam in line with your arm and shoulder? If it falls too far past the inside of your shoulder line, you will look wider than you are.
  3. Is your arm opening fitted leaving room for movement? If you find bunching fabric at your armpit by the bust, you need a size down or try petites.
  4. Does your jacket or blouse have structure to highlight, create, or minimize curves? Use different shaped jackets to hide or highlight features. For example a 3-button jacket will minimize a larger bust.
  5. Does your sleeve length hit a flattering point on your arm? Long sleeves should end at or just past the wrist break.  Elbow length sleeves will highlight your waist.
  6. Does your shirt or jacket hit close to the top of your hip bone? The hem should be within 3 inches of the top of your hip bone to lengthen the legs.  You could layer a shirt longer than the jacket to get the same effect.
  7. Is your pant hem too long or short?  Your hem should fall ¼ – ½ inches above the floor with shoes on. Straight or skinny leg pants can fall a bit higher. The wider the leg opening, the more it should hover the floor.
  8. Does your skirt hem end at a flattering point?  Skirts should hit at or just below the knee (or where the leg naturally curves in at the knee). If you are petite, your hem should fall just above the knee, lengthening your legs.

9 Organizing Thoughts That Will Derail Your Success

colorful desk

By Stephanie LH Calahan

  1. “When I have time,  I’ll get to it.”
    If you are struggling to find time, then you  have an even bigger need to get organized! Did you know that the average person wastes 150 hours a year just looking for stuff? To make it worse, the average executive wastes six weeks a year just looking for information and other items. Imagine what you could do with that extra time.  Pick 10-15 minutes a day and get started now.
  2. “If it can’t be perfect,  why do it?”
    Wanting to do a good job on your  projects is admirable. However, the drive for perfection has ruined the success of many projects. Perfectionism paralyzes even the smartest people. Consider the consequences of not doing the project at all versus the need for perfection, then see what you can do to eliminate that procrastination technique.
  3. “I can change! I know I  can. This system worked  for ______ and I know I can make it work for me.”
    We are all different, right down to  our fingerprints. Assuming that  the system is right and you are broken is not the right way to go. Instead, find a system that works for the way you naturally think and learn. You will experience a much better outcome.
  4. “I do what the books tell me, I have similar items together, but nothing ever gets put away.”
    Like items with like items works in some circumstances, but there is another rule to consider. Store items closest to where you will use them. For example, if you have a container that holds all of your scissors, you will likely never  find them in that container! Why? We get the scissors out and take them to the space where we use them. To walk back to a centralized storage location just does not happen very often. Items that you use on a daily basis should be within your arm’s reach.
  5. “I know I have not used it in years, but I will!”
    If you work or live in a space that has loads of extra room, then this comment can be okay.  However, most people I talk to tell me that they don’t have enough space. If you have to search through stuff that you don’t use to find the things you do use, you are wasting time. Be honest with yourself and let go of unused items. It will free up your space and time for more important things.
  6. “I have a fantastic 48-step plan.”
    Any system that has too many steps is likely to fail. Put the KISS (Keep It Simple, Silly) process into play. If it takes a long time or the task seems out of reach, it is likely you won’t do it.
  7. “Planning, smanning— organizing is easy. You just get in there and do it…right?”
    A little planning up front can save you lots of time, now and in the future. Decide what the purpose for each space will be.  Then, as you have new items come into that space, you will be able to ask yourself if the item fits the  purpose. Let’s say you work out of your home and you have identified a room that is dedicated solely to your business. If you happen to find crayons or  clothes in that room, it is obvious they don’t belong and should be moved out.
  8. “I found the cutest container yesterday! I love the little drawers.  Now I just need to figure out how to use it.”
    If you purchase organizing containers and tools without knowing how you are going to use them, it is likely that the containers will become the very thing you are trying to cure, clutter! Instead, sort and purge first. Then identify  specific containers and tools that are needed to complete a project and purchase those.
  9. “No one can help me with this stuff. I have to do this alone.”
    Sometimes when we create a mess, we feel like we need to clean it up on our own, but that is untrue. Some of us are better than others at figuring out systems to get organized.  Consider finding a co-worker or friend that is  organized and ask if they will help. Or, you can hire a coach to help you figure it out. Seeking help when you need it is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness.

 

The Life Cycle of Paper

paper flying

By Amber Kostelny-Cussen | www.ambersorganizing.com

Much like other things in life, paper has a life cycle. Paper has a specific job for a short period of time. When we treat paper as a family member or like an antique piece of furniture, it creates, besides a big stack of clutter, a problem with the organization of our home and office. So let’s take a look at the cycle in detail.

Paper arrives. It comes through the mail, through our printer, through backpacks, through purses and briefcases.  Paper doesn’t just magically appear all over the floor, counter top or table. We hit the print button. We subscribe to newspapers, catalogs, magazines and newsletters. We also decide where to place it, dump it, or organize it.

Paper stays. The main reason we accumulate excess paper is because a decision isn’t made at the time of its arrival. Make decisions. Decide to decide. What is absolutely essential to running this family, this business, or this office? Could you get the information again from another source if you needed to? Could it be found online or stored electronically? If I haven’t taken action by now, will I ever? If I need to research this again, will the research still be available to me?  Nine times out of 10, most paper can be pitched. There is not a magic answer to how long to keep paper.  You have to ask yourself the right questions to make the right decisions.

Paper leaves. If you think about it, there are not many examples of paper  we need to keep forever. Most paper has a deadline, expiration, and date  range to indicate if it needs saving.  The few examples of paper that would  stay forever would be a passport, birth certificate, adoption papers, marriage  certificate, death certificate, a deed to a home and any other long term legal  paperwork, such as a will.

The Challenge: Rid yourself of as much paper as possible.  Ditch the piles, throw out the old and dated. Consider saving things in organized files on the computer instead of hitting the print button.  Try putting a recycling bin by the door. Pitch as much paper as possible before you let any more in. Consider stopping your subscriptions. Instead of stuffing paper in your bag, briefcase or purse, toss it instead.  Don’t bring it home. Choose to say enough is enough. Stop the paper cycle from starting and you won’t have to organize it later.