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  • September 21, 2020 9:54 AM | Anonymous

    Christopher Lancette, Orion's Attic

    September 21, 2020

    If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the steamrollers almost certainly go through storage units. There is no more costly or easier mistake for a homeowner or estate executor to make than falling for the trap of renting a storage unit.

    storage unit clean-out companies

    Storage units are like credit card debt.

    We see it all the time in our work with Orion’s Attic: People with the very best of intentions choose to put heaps of stuff in storage units instead of dealing with the problem beforehand. Our advice to you? Don’t let yourself become a storage unit sucker. If you’re already stuck in a unit, or two or three, contact us today to help get you out of the ever-increasing monthly fees for storage unit rent. You can also read more about all of our services.

    We have seen people rack up many thousands of dollars in storage fees before they even know what hit them. Putting stuff in storage units is like going into credit card debt: It’s incredibly easy to get in and monstrously difficult to get out. The comparison between storage units and credit cards is apt in many ways. Both offer wonderful deals to get you to try one for the first time. Many storage unit companies even offer a first month for “free.”

    There is no such thing as “free.”

    Storage unit companies know that you may start a rental agreement intending to get out before the first month is over but that almost all people get hooked and end up paying for storage for many months and, sadly, often years. By the time you’re done, assuming you get out before you decide to default and let the storage unit company auction off your belongings, you have spent thousands more dollars in storage than the value of the stuff you’re saving.

    Let’s share some examples of the storage unit nightmares we’ve seen and show you the math. Hopefully this will inspire you to use Orion’s Attic for your storage unit buyout and/or storage unit clean-out needs:

    storage unit clean-out companies

    Half-empty storage units are worse than packed units: You’re paying for twice what you need.

    • We helped a Northern Virginia client who called us a few years ago hoping to make a mint on the sale of his mother’s antique furniture he had kept in storage. By the time he called us, he had spent $250 a month for four years — a total of $12,000.  The second-hand, antique shop value of all of it? About $3,000 after the expenses of us taking it to an antiques store for him. The man had been blinded by the emotional attachment he had with his mom. As we have to tell people all the time, sentimental value does not equal real-world financial value.


    • We got a call from a Washington D.C. client who had a pair of storage units costing him about $500 a month. They were packed floor-to-ceiling with furniture, art, home decor and collectibles long out of style and that aren’t coming back any time soon. He had already paid $22,000 in storage. He told us that he was ready to let the stuff go and stop paying storage fees. When we showed up to take it all away and sell it for him, he changed his mind. We asked him why he couldn’t go through with it, how he could live with that kind of expense.  He told us that he got anxious each month as the due date approached, then chose to pay the bill and not think about it again for several more weeks. We suspect he’s still there now and that he has now made more than $40,000 in payments … money he has zero chance to recover.


    • One of the most painful cases we experienced came with a dear, sweet woman in Maryland who over time became a friend of ours. We first met her years ago when she was grieving for her husband, a man who happened to have a storage unit full of a certain kind of collectibles for which demand and value had fallen to the floor over the past 20 years. They were hot once but not now. We made her a generous offer to buy it all or take it on consignment just to get her out of paying $300 a month. The dear, sweet woman told us that she thought the items had more value so she just couldn’t let them go for that. Naturally, our friend called us years later and we emptied the unit, the collection now worth even less than it was years ago. She ended up getting back a fraction of what she had paid in storage.

    The best way to avoid becoming a storage unit sucker is to confront the problem head-on when it occurs. Deal with the financial, psychological and emotional issues and items BEFORE you even think about moving them into storage.

    If you’re thinking you’re going to play the junk stock market and put furniture in storage because “the value will come back” and that you’ll make a profit in the end, the odds of that working out for you are slim to none. The value of most items is not going to go back up in our lifetimes. The only furniture people go nuts for today is Mid-Century Modern furniture. Signed limited edition prints by most artists draw maybe $5 to 10 at auction — and sit forever in retail stores. No one cares about them anymore. (We’ve got stacks of such prints in our eBay store right now and can’t sell them for even $2 each.)

    The key to avoiding storage units? Make tough decisions not driven by emotion.

    People are just as often driven to storage units by bad, emotion-based decisions. Estate executors put their parents’ stuff in storage after they die because they think their parents would be horrified if they knew they didn’t keep it. We can’t imagine any parent wanting their kids to ring up thousands of dollars in charges holding onto Singer sewing machines with cast iron bases, Hummel figurines, china cabinets and upholstered couches.

    Many storage unit companies, by the way, charge you a lower monthly rate for the first several months and then begin jacking up the fees by as much as 33 percent by the fourth or fifth month.

    If you’re currently considering renting a storage unit, don’t do it. Whether your sell or donate the items, you’re still going to come out better financially than paying for storage indefinitely.

    If you’re already in a storage unit facility, get out of it today. Orion’s Attic can help. If you have the kinds of hot items that would be profitable for us to re-sell directly, we can buy-out the unit and haul it all away. If it’s filled with a combination of things including not-as-hot items, trash and charitable donations that don’t make financial sense for us to buy, we can provide a storage unit clean-out service that sells your antiques, collectibles, jewelry and more through direct cash offers, auction houses and other means, transports your charitable donations and clears the trash.

    • We recently helped a husband-and-wife that was paying $400 a month in storage fees for a large unit stuffed from floor to ceiling with many objects of great sentimental value and but a few of actual financial value. The couple hired us to provide a combination of services. We pulled down and opened every box so that they could review the contents and decide what they wanted to take home. We made an offer to buy a collection of sterling silver flatware, some rare books, and a other items. We delivered two truckloads of furniture and household items to charity (we love A Wider Circle in Silver Spring, Habitat for Humanity Restore and others) and provided them with tax receipts, and we hauled a truckload of broken items and other trash to a Montgomery County transfer station. The initial labor charge for two days of hard work with a crew of four and our truck was not cheap — but — after we purchased some items — the final bill fell to about $500. They closed out the unit and saved the $400 rent payment for the next month, not to mention who knows how many more after that.

    Even if you end up paying to clean out a storage unit, the rent savings pays for the work quickly.

    The only thing worse than becoming a storage unit sucker in the first place is remaining one when you’ve already paid way more in storage fees than you will ever get back from liquidating the unit’s contents. STOP throwing your money away in storage unit fees. Contact Orion’s Attic today to find out more about our storage unit buyout and storage unit cleanout services.

    storage unit clean-out companies

    For more information: 

    Christopher Lancette, Orion's Attic

  • September 21, 2020 9:43 AM | Anonymous

    Debbie Smith, Keep Your Stuff Simple

    I had something kind of cool happen to me book wise; a journalist, Jennifer Howard in DC, who was writing a book about clutter and organizing contacted me last spring to interview me for her book. Heather Cocozza had referred her to me and had also spoken with her. I happily met with her and didn't really know what to expect. (As a woman I'm always happy to chat with another woman and help them with their questions)

    As an only child she was left to clean up after her mother who had been put in a facility for memory care with dementia and it took her 2 years to clean up her hoarding situation in the home. Her emotional journey through this endeavor led her to researching and writing a book.

    About 2 weeks ago she sent me an email that she'd had the book published and wanted to send me a copy. She did, along with a very nice note. It's called, 'Clutter, An Untidy History'.

    I was surprised to find myself listed in the back under her acknowledgements and then a whole chapter about the business of organizing, mentioning NAPO, NAPO-WDC, me and Heather Cocozza, quoting us and giving Heather a great shout out for her business. I came into the kitchen to have my Mom read the chapter since it mentions my mom 'in her 90's' having been a Navy wife and teaching me all about being organized in our many moves. There on the front page of today's (Sept 15th, 2020) Washington Post Style section was a huge write up about her book. Surreal.

    The WP write up did say she came across as a bit bitter and resentful in her book, but I would say the person that said that has never had to clean up after a parent ~ it took this woman 2 years to get her mom's house sorted out, all the while raising 2 kids and working. Her mom had, obviously, emotional and brain based issues for a while or she would have never been a hoarder, which also tainted their relationship over their lifetime.

    I've not finished the book yet, but Jennifer really did a great job on getting to the history of why there's so much clutter, where it all started in the consumerism/commercialism and need for more, more, more and how we got to realizing we needed less. Much less! Good for us and for the environment. Check out the book, it's not a huge read and NAPO-WDC/organizers got a good shout out!

    The author also quoted material from Susan Kousek's September 2019 NAPO-WDC chapter presentation and mentioned the NAPO Washington, DC Chapter by name and references one of our wildly successful chapter meetings.

    Congratulations to the NAPO-WDC Board to have the operations of a NAPO chapter meeting highlighted in a published book.  Jennifer mentions my invitation to the meeting, the number of attendees (80 people), the catered dinner, networking, Susan Kousek's time management presentation, and talking with various professional organizers at the end of the meeting.  You never know who will be in the audience during one of our amazing chapter meetings!

    Great job NAPO-WDC!!

    Debbie Smith, Keep Your Stuff Simple for more information.

  • September 21, 2020 9:35 AM | Anonymous

    From Home Transition Pros

    Guest Blogger: Sarah Reeder, Artifactual History® Appraisal

    September 21, 2020

    Obtaining art and antique appraisals can be a critical early step when you’re ready to move. We’ve noticed that lovers of art, antiques and collections can find it very difficult to downsize.   In addition to the challenges of deciding what stays and what goes, there are additional concerns about gifting, selling, preserving or donating excess items.  How does one know the true value of art, fine furniture and collections?

    Sarah Reeder provides art and antique appraisals as the owner of Artifactual History® Appraisal in Northern Virginia.  In this exclusive article, Sarah generously shares everything we need to know about art appraisals.

    What Is an Appraisal?

    An appraisal is an opinion of value prepared by an appraiser. Appraisers are qualified professionals with expert knowledge about the types of items they appraise and they prepare written appraisal reports to assist their clients for a wide range of purposes.

    An appraisal is a legal document and appraisers like me who work in compliance with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) are governed by an extensive series of regulations to protect their clients and maintain the public trust in appraising.

    Art and Antique Values Estate Sales

    When Do You Need An Appraisal?

    Art and antique appraisals are written for a wide variety of intended uses. Two major purposes of appraisal reports are for insurance coverage and equitable distribution.

    Appraisals for Insurance Purposes

    Appraisal reports are needed to protect valuable items with insurance coverage. Depending on your specific insurance policy, you may not be covered in the event of damage or loss if you don’t have an insurance appraisal report already on file. I recommend reviewing your insurance policy and confirming its details with your agent, and then having the valuables that currently are vulnerable and unprotected appraised by a professional USPAP-compliant appraiser.

    The vocabulary used in insurance policies can be quite complicated to understand so I’ve written an entire article explaining them here. If you are planning on moving, this is a great time to have an insurance appraisal report prepared so you will be well-protected with established appraised values before cherished items possibly may be damaged or lost during the move.

    Appraisals for Equitable Distribution Purposes

    Appraisals are also often written for equitable distribution purposes to divide inherited belongings among siblings and children. An equitable distribution appraisal report allows family members to receive specific belongings from an estate in an orderly, objective way that quantifies each object with an appraised value so that everyone can receive an equal value, or family members who don’t want items can be compensated with the corresponding amount in liquid assets from the estate. Tensions among survivors are often very high in estate situations and bringing in an appraiser who is independent, objective, and impartial can help reduce and prevent additional conflicts among heirs and help ease the stress of a challenging time.

    Legal Considerations

    While equitable distribution appraisals can be useful in many estate situations, certain estates are legally required to have an appraisal report prepared for probate or federal income tax purposes.  It’s always a good idea to consult with the attorney handling the estate to confirm what is needed for that particular estate.  Estate appraisal reports for probate and federal purposes can also often be used for equitable distribution among the family members

    Valuable Art Collection Appraisal and Valuation

    Values and Levels

    It’s also important to understand that in addition to the many types of appraisals, there are many different types of values that can be used in art and antique appraisals. These values are sourced from various levels of the market and correspond to different intended uses.

    Insurance appraisal reports are typically written using retail replacement value (the highest level of value) and estate and equitable distribution appraisal reports are typically written using fair market value (a lower level, often sourced from auction sales). There are many different levels of value, and I discuss them in more detail in this article.

    Appraisals are also needed to document non-cash charitable contributions when the fair market value will exceed $5,000.

    Having an appraisal report prepared to assess the market when considering a planned future sale can be very helpful in guiding your planning.

    Another crucial reason to have an appraisal prepared is to document your collection to reduce stress later for your children or heirs so they will be able to clearly identify everything and know which pieces are valuable.

    Why Should You Get An Appraisal?

    You should consider getting art and antique appraisals because it is a tool to protect yourself.  USPAP-compliant appraisers are required to be objective and independent, which will ensure that you can’t be taken advantage of.  Appraisals protect your treasured valuables in the event of damage or loss, help you create the most effective estate plan, make informed decisions about future sales of certain items in your collection, and bring you peace of mind that you have prevented infighting and stress among your heirs in the future.  

    There are a number of excellent times to consider getting an appraisal:

    • One is when you are planning to move and wish to protect your items from potential damage in transit.
    • Another is if it has been several years since your last insurance appraisal update, or if your items have never been appraised for insurance at all.  
    • A great time to get an appraisal is when you are beginning your estate planning process because an appraiser’s findings can help your estate attorney structure your paperwork most effectively for your specific situation.  An estate planning appraisal can also help you designate certain items for later equitable distribution and give you the peace of mind that your children won’t throw out anything valuable by accident.  
    • An appraisal can be invaluable in emotionally charged times, such as equitable distribution during a divorce or if there are fighting heirs in an estate settlement.
    • If you are considering a future sale of certain items in your collection, an appraisal is a useful planning tool to assess the current market for similar items and help guide your identification of the best venues. 

    How Should You Get an Appraisal?

    If you want to get an appraisal, I strongly recommend hiring an appraiser who works in compliance with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) like I do.  This will protect you as a consumer because USPAP-compliant appraisers must obey the rigorous ethical and professional standards specified within USPAP.  One of the most critical details is that USPAP-compliant appraisers are prohibited from charging based on a percentage of appraised value (which used to be a common practice).  There are also strict rules in place to avoid other situations where an appraiser could have a potential conflict of interest.

    Antiques and Collectibles in the home need appraisals.

    Appraiser Credentials

    I encourage consumers to look for appraisers who are a member of one of the major professional organizations for appraisers as this also distinguishes them given the continuing education and ethical codes required for membership.  I belong to both the Appraisers Association of America and the International Society of Appraisers.

    The three major professional organizations for appraisers in the United States are:

    Appraisers Association of America:

    International Society of Appraisers:

    American Society of Appraisers:

    All three organizations have member databases that allow you to search for appraisers based on your local geographic region and the specialization you are looking for (such as an appraiser of art, or an appraiser of antiquities).


    Levels and Specialties

    Another useful thing to pay attention to is what level of membership within the organization has the appraiser you are considering hiring achieved? Each higher level of membership indicates the appraiser has met an additional set of rigorous requirements. For example, I am a Certified Member of the International Society of Appraisers (the highest level of membership possible) and I have also achieved the Private Client Services Designation for working with high-net-worth individuals. I am currently an Accredited Member of the Appraisers Association of America and am working towards achieving Certified Membership in the future.

    Next, you want to make sure the specialty of the appraiser you are considering matches the type of objects you have. For example, if you have art to appraise, you will want to be hiring an appraiser of art rather than a jewelry appraiser. The professional organization databases have filters for specializations in certain object types to make this easy for you.


    Personality Matters

    Finally, I always encourage consumers to select an appraiser with whom they have good chemistry.  Is your appraiser responsive to your questions?  Do they provide a written contract for you to review and sign and give an estimate in advance of total project size?  

    Appraising is a very intimate activity where appraisers are evaluating some of your most cherished heirlooms.  I take the responsibilities of my professional role very seriously in my appraising work and endeavor to always be thoughtful and sensitive to the feelings of vulnerability these projects can elicit in clients.  I strongly recommend that everyone considering hiring an appraiser choose someone they feel very comfortable working with.

    Common Mistakes You Can Avoid When Downsizing Art and Valuables

    • Not identifying what you have before you get rid of it. Appraisers are an amazing resource to assist with this!
    • Not considering the appropriate market for each specific item. Certain things sell for much more money in particular venues.
    • Not clearly evaluating where the most valuable assets are and how to maximize profit based on those factors. I’ve witnessed situations where people feel overwhelmed and bogged down about trying to achieve the best prices possible for household items that have relatively modest values and delay taking action that would maximize profits with the real estate, which often is worth exponentially more.
    • Not leaving enough time for a sale for higher-value items. Some types of items can bring much higher prices if there is enough time to market them effectively, while sales that are rushed with a tight deadline typically have steep discounting impacting the final sold prices.

    It pays to involve experts.

    We know professionals in your area who can help you identify and evaluate items of value when you are downsizing. .  We’ll also help you get the most possible money for your stuff, and clear out your home completely. We do it all with the help of vetted, trustworthy and local professionals.  

    We'll take it from here. Get in touch today for a free consultation.

    Contact Home Transition Pros for more information.

  • August 05, 2020 5:31 PM | Anonymous

    Written by: Home Transition Pros

    August 05, 2020

    What’s it Worth?

    Royal Crown Derby Imari Porcelain China

    Generally speaking, the value of china is not what most downsizers would want it to be.  It’s always difficult to let people know that the treasured place settings of so many family meals have very little resale value.  Like many similar collections, there is currently a glut in the market and not many people want to buy fine china today.

    However, the gorgeous black and gold pattern we noticed at a client’s home recently really caught our eye.  We asked Chris Lancette of Orion’s Attic to weigh in on what it could be worth.

    A Notable Exception

    “I usually preface any response to questions about the value of china with one of the great many polite strings of words I use to convey that china isn’t worth much today, says Lancette.  “There are some exceptions to the rule, though.  The Royal Crown Derby china Anna showed me today is one of the exceptions to the rule!”

    Estate sale chinaRoyal Crown Derby Porcelain China

    Chris explains that this colorful china has several things going for it. The general style of it is known as Imari – which takes its name from a Japanese port that started shipping porcelain to the West in the late 1600s. While these pieces are not that old, it was made by the Royal Crown Derby Porcelain Company of Derby, England. The company is considered either the oldest or second oldest porcelain company still operating in the United Kingdom.

    Chris estimates that the china in these photos likely dates back to the 1920s to 1930s. “The dinner plate with a pattern featuring what I loosely call double diamonds is particularly popular today. People still want it.”

    So, What’s it Worth?

    Chris notes that if he had been hired as an appraiser to put a replacement value or insurance value on this pattern,  he would assign each dinner plate a value of $100 to $125. “If an owner asked me to make an offer on it as a dealer, I would explain that we typically sell plates like this in our eBay store at fixed (not auction) prices of about $60 to $80 – winding up with about $52 to $68 after eBay and other fees. To make it worth my time and effort to buy, sell, pack and ship, I could offer approximately $30 to $40.”  A cup and saucer set, meanwhile, can often net about $40 or more.

    chna collectors estate saleAuthentic Royal Crown Derby China

    Someone fortunate enough to own an entire set of Royal Crown Derby Imari china with place settings for four to eight people could be dining on a collection worth a few thousand dollars!

    Ask the right questions.

    We recommend consulting with an individual or company with experience evaluating art, furniture and collections at the beginning of any downsizing project.  While it may be harder to find a market for many household goods these days, there are always exceptions to the rule.

    Call us first.

    We can introduce you to qualified and vetted local professionals who are skilled at recognizing and evaluating valuable items in your collections.

    Get in touch today to find out how we can help you get the most value out of your stuff, clear your home completely, and make a move with minimum stress.

    Contact Home Transition Pros for more information.

  • August 05, 2020 5:25 PM | Anonymous

    Janet Schiesl, Basic Organization

    August 05, 2020

    Finding your nook when you think about organizing. What does that mean? There no secret to it. Let me explain.

    Organizing doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. Actually, it’s probably better in small bundles. A little here and a little there and you will see a difference in no time.

    Look for your ‘Hygge”  when organizing your space. Have you heard of hygge? I started learning about hygge a few years ago and look at it as a way to find a comfortable level of organization in my life. Meaning, doing just enough organizing in my home, but not letting it overwhelm me.  Would that work for you? By focusing on a nook (or one small space) that doesn’t work and changing it in a way that makes you feel calmer and happy. That’s how I use hygge in my life. Here’s a definition of hygge I like from

    Hygge (pronounced hue-guh) is a danish word used to acknowledge a special feeling or moment. It can be alone or with friends, or home or out, ordinary or extraordinary, but it is always cozy, charming or special. – from…CLICK TO TWEET

    Where to start?

    There are lots of small places that collect odds and ends that clutter up your home, your car, your office and your life. Here is a list of some of those nooks and crannies where you can make a difference in a short amount of time.

    • Closets – clothes, linen, front hall/coat, gift wrap, storage, craft, toy, pantry
    • Drawers – junk, kitchen, pencil, desk, dresser, end tables, bathroom, glove compartment, file
    • Cabinets – medicine, media, kitchen, file, craft, china, pantry, storage, bathroom, toy, office supply
    • Shelves – book, knickknacks, storage, closet, shoe, media
    • Chests  – toy, tool, jewelry, car trunk

    I have learned a lot about how to practice hygge (which is very personal) from joining a couple of facebook groups. My favorite is The Hygge Nook. Check them or other out. See how people everywhere incorporate hygge and organization into their lives. Find your nook and get started!

    Contact: Janet Schiesl, Basic Organization

  • August 05, 2020 2:27 PM | Anonymous

    Jessica Williams,  Clutter Doctor

    August 5, 2020

    Wondering if you actually need to hire a Professional Organizer? Well, does this sound familiar?

    • You have a closet that you won’t even open because the contents are too overwhelming to deal with … truth is, you don’t even know what’s in there anymore!​

    • Your garage has no room for the car.​

    • Your filing “system” is non-existent and you can never find the latest soccer schedule, birthday party invite or dental appointment reminder in all of your piles.

    • You’re always tripping over stacks of unread magazines, books and catalogs.

    • Your kids think being organized means still being able to find their bed at night.

    • Your family photos from the past 20 years are gathering dust in a bunch of old cardboard boxes.

    • Your inability to find anything means that you are often late for appointments and that you buy triplicates of everything because you don’t know where the original item is anymore!

    • Your friends call you a “pack rat” and you’re too embarrassed to have anyone over.

    • You try to fix these problems, but you just too get overwhelmed to make progress.

    So many people today feel that they are drowning in things. They've unknowingly become clutter bugs because it happens slowly over time as we naturally accumulate bigger houses and more stuff.  This is especially true for those of us who have children.

    Others begin to collect things after experiencing a major move, a change in lifestyle, or after a tragic loss. Holding onto items is something most of us have struggled with at one time or another because we often associate life’s moments, or even certain people, with items that serve as tangible reminders of loved ones.

    Clutter overstimulates the brain and makes you less productive. Left untreated, clutter can cause long-term stress and perhaps even other health problems. Professional Organizers can help you regain control, allowing you to create physical and emotional balance in your home and life!

    For many people, the hardest part about getting organized is knowing how to get started. Maybe you don’t have time, or the skills or maybe the idea of organization simply scares you. Whatever has kept you from managing the clutter, a Professional Organizer can help. Professional Organizers understand that organization is not about simply throwing everything out.  It's about keeping only what we love or need and making those things accessible so that we can feel less stressed and enjoy life’s activities. Furthermore, Professional Organizers don't have emotional ties to your things and can keep you anchored to a task while being judgement-free.

    Don't you deserve that peace of mind of getting organized?  Then contact me today or do a search for a Professional Organizer at

    Contact Clutter Doctor

  • June 24, 2020 7:20 PM | Anonymous

     Janet Schiesl, Basic Organization

    June 24, 2020

    Here’s the story about how I learned to save big money on my food budget.

    When I was a young adult (and not so organized) I used to go grocery shopping about once a week. I’d spend a reasonable amount of money, but many times those shopping trips ended with me going home, putting everything away and then going out to dinner. I was a little crazy to shop without a plan and then come home with nothing to eat for dinner. I soon learned that by planning meals before grocery shopping can save you BIG MONEY!

    10 Tips to Save Big Money on Your Food Budget

    1. Cook at home. This will be your biggest savings. Americans spend some 50% of their food dollars on restaurant meals. Cooking at home is always cheaper. Planning a week of meals at one time can make it easier to follow your plan.
    2. Stretch your budget by making a meal out of left-overs. Omelets, quesadillas, stir-fries, soups or pastas can incorporate many different ingredients.
    3. Eat left-overs for lunch or freeze for another meal.
    4. Know what’s in your freezer. Have a running inventory of what you have stored and plan when you will use it. Make sure you use each meal within a year.
    5. Use less meat. Make a meal once a week that focuses on beans, tofu or eggs.
    6. Incorporated frozen vegetables into recipes. They are healthy and inexpensive.
    7. Grow your own garden. If you have a yard use some of it to plan some herbs and seasonal vegetable. It’s healthy and a great project for the kids.
    8. Buy some items in bulk. Check prices, but sometimes buying in bulk and freezing for later can save lots of money.
    9. Stock up on staples like beans, rice, canned tomatoes, oil, pasta and frozen veggies. Having basic items will help you throw something together for dinner in a flash. You can do this with an organized pantry.
    10. Buy when it’s on sale and use coupons when able.

    You can save big with a little organization.

    Contact: Janet Schiesl, Basic Organization

  • June 24, 2020 7:07 PM | Anonymous

    Jill Katz, One To Zen Organizing

    June 24, 2020

    Would you like to organize your space but can’t seem to get started? You are not alone. Many people view organizing as a daunting task. It’s simply more than they can handle. Here is where chunking comes in handy.


    I first learned about chunking when speaking with my daughter’s therapist many years ago. My daughter has ADHD and her therapist was trying to help her with executive functioning, skills related to planning and organizing. At the time, my daughter was entering sixth grade and she was having trouble sitting down to do her more complex homework.


    The therapist suggested breaking up her work into smaller steps. For example, she broke down my daughter’s essay assignment into 5 steps:

    1. Brainstorm ideas
    2. Write outline
    3. Write two paragraph essay body
    4. Write Intro & Conclusion
    5. Edit entire essay

    Writing an essay seemed like a huge deal to my daughter, but doing each of these steps across a school week seemed attainable. And that, my friends, is chunking.

    A great read!

    "The only consistent sustainable way to grow big is to start small.”

    -BJ Fogg, author of Tiny Habits


    Here are some of examples of how you can apply chunking to organizing and productivity in your everyday life:

    1. Understand that small steps can add up to a BIG IMPACT on your life.

    Behavioral psychologist, BJ Fogg, author of Tiny Habits, relates why small steps make a big difference: “Tiny allows you to get real with yourself and your life. Tiny allows you to start right now.” He adds “The only consistent sustainable way to grow big is to start small.”

    2. Create a sense of Accomplishment:

    Celebrate small things like putting “Get Dressed” on your daily to-do list so you can check it off. It feels great, right?

    You get a thumbs up

    3. Plan a task that is Possible:

    The next time you have a task, plan only the next step instead of the entire series of steps. For example, when you receive an invitation in the mail, attach a sticky note that says, “Check calendar.” Calendar clear? Write the next step, “Buy a gift” and move forward with that. You can do this!

    4. Make organizing Less Overwhelming:

    Choose a small space (closet, bookshelf or desk) and write out each step in increments you can handle. Move forward with each step at a calm pace. Are you breathing? If not, you might want to learn the strategy of mantras.

    What project are you avoiding right now? Chunk it and start making small step at a time.

    Jill Katz, One To Zen Organizing

    Silver Spring, MD 301-799-8112

  • May 31, 2020 5:03 PM | Anonymous

    Janet Schiesl, Basic Organization

    May 31, 2020

    This is for all the Work-from-Home Moms.

    If you want one of the most stressful jobs on the planet, be a mother for a day.  To kick it up a notch, as famous chef Emeril Lagasse says, then mompreneurs know that a hectic schedule and being pressed for deadlines is the way most days go.

    Mompreneurs need to be reminded that being overworked and stressed will not make them more productive.

    What is needed is a handful of relaxation methods that can be your stress relief in the course of a day.  Working at home doesn’t have to be the most stressful venture that so many mothers working at home find it to be.

    Here are 7 Ways to Relax for Mompreneurs and Work at Home Moms (WAHMs)

    Find a happy retreat

    This can be done mentally or physically, and some may find that this retreat time will have to be used sparingly with little ones running amok.  Nonetheless, finding a place to retreat from the chaos where you can just “be” for a few minutes will help gather your thoughts.

    Can’t get away?  Then try one of many “guided imagery” techniques you can find online.  This is a way to mentally retreat by using tranquil images you can conjure up anywhere.

    Take regular vacations

    Perhaps this is not possible at the outset, but make it a goal to take a regular vacation.  These need to be planned well in advance for financial as well as business reasons, but having a regular down time will work wonders.

    Take a breather

    Literally.  Learn some breathing techniques to slow your breathing and take deeper breaths when you need the relief.  This will combat the urge to pant, which is usually a sign of stress or even anger.  3-5 long, slow, deep breaths will help combat stress and help you relax.


    “Laughter is the best medicine” sometimes.  It might help you to watch a funny video online that is only a few minutes long, or to keep a bookmarked website where you can flip through a few short laughs when needed.

    Mood music

    Walk to the beat of a different drummer by changing the sound in your environment.  Set the mood with the music you listen to, and consider surround sound with your favorite relaxing tunes.

    Take the kids for a little stroll

    This works great if you have a house dog, where you know your dog will want to get out to use the bathroom or get some exercise.  Take your kids if you can for a stroll around your block, to a park, etc.

    Making sure you do this regularly will help decompress your stressful situation.

    Make a pot of Chamomile tea

    Chamomile, or lavender-infused teas, will help you to relax a bit.  Take a few minutes to boil the water and have a calming ritual of enjoying a cup.  The tea itself soothes, but the entire ritual can be quite relaxing.

    Whether work-from-home moms and mompreneurs have it “all figured out” or not when they begin their home-based businesses, one thing is guaranteed: workplace stress is reality.  Having your kids around and the housekeeping that piles up, it’s stressful.

    Mompreneurs need to be reminded that being overworked and stressed will not make them more productive.CLICK TO TWEET

    Don’t let stress get the better of you!  Work-from-Home Moms can burn out much easier than typical entrepreneurs because the stress comes at you from so many angles simultaneously – but hang in there: you can do this.

    If you need more ideas on how to avoid work at home mom blues & burnoutbe sure to check out this invaluable article by clicking HERE.

    I hope you have enjoyed today’s blog post, written by my special guest, Christina Martin, of YouRelaunched.  For more information about Christina, please visit her website.

  • May 31, 2020 4:41 PM | Anonymous

    Jill Katz, One To Zen

    May 31, 2020

    In this new COVID-19 climate, we have all had to adapt. One way that I have adapted, along with many of my fellow professional organizers, is to shift my sessions from hands-on, in-person organizing to virtual organizing. And anytime we do something different, we learn something new.

    Virtual Organizing

    Virtual organizing is organizing from a remote location. I am in my home while you, the client, are in your home. The biggest challenge with virtual organizing is that I am not able to physically help. My body is ready to spring into action, by moving, sorting, and organizing. Yet because we are virtual I am forced to slow down, listen more, and use words to encourage you and direct you through the organizing process.

    The Four Organizing Needs

    The slower pace of virtual organizing has allowed me to identify 4 different needs people have that must be addressed (by themselves or by their organizer) in order to reach their goals: Organizing Techniques, Strategy & Planning, Coaching, and Accountability. Most people have a blend of these needs and don't fit into any one category.

    I. Organizing Techniques: Sort, Divide, and Conquer

    I. Organizing Techniques: Sort, Divide, and Conquer 

    The Need: An organizer that will provide you with techniques and tips while guiding you through the organizing process.  

    You need organizing techniques if you:

    • Aren’t sure how to get started

    • Have tried to declutter or organize before but keep getting stuck

    • Would like someone to walk you through each step of organizing so you can understand the process

    The Example: My experience with Stephanie Frumkin from Silver Spring, MD is a great illustration of the need for organizing techniques. Stephanie wanted to get her kitchen in order and wasn’t sure where or how to begin. After a brief discussion, we decided to start with her utensils. I then guided Stephanie through the process of removing all her utensils, sorting and categorizing them. When Stephanie seemed confused, I would give her a tip or ask her a question. Stephanie explained how this process felt to her: “When I got stuck, [Jill] calmly guided me and never made me feel embarrassed or pressured in any aspect of the process.” About 15 minutes into the session, Stephanie declared, “Oh, I get it now!” The next day, Stephanie sent me a quick note about our session: “It is inspiring me to create more of a system in terms of what I do.”

    II. Strategy & Planning: Who, What, When, & Why

    Give me a roadmap!

    The Need: An organizer that can provide you

    The Need: An organizer that can provide you with a framework. With this framework you might even be able to organize on your own.

    You need strategy if you:

    • Don’t have systems in place for many routines such as mail, laundry, donations

    • Try to clean up a room but don’t have “homes” for many of the items

    • Need a road-map to transform the function of a particular space

    The Example: Amy Stolls of Washington, DC was frustrated by her clutter. We had been working on various rooms in her house since the spring of 2019 and making steady progress. But with current events, I couldn’t be present with her in her home. This had happened once before when Amy was busy with work. She couldn’t find 4 consecutive hours to schedule an in-person session so we filled in the 2-month gap by scheduling virtual 1-hour sessions. During those sessions, Amy discussed what was bothering her and I organized her thoughts and created a list of items for her to work on until our next virtual session along with tips where appropriate. When we met again, Amy would update me on any developments and I would create a new “to do” list. This month, Amy is stoked because she needs some organizing in her vacation cabin. It doesn't matter that the cabin is far away since we will be continuing to organize virtually.

    III. Coaching: Bringing Out the Best In You

    The Need: An organizer that can support you

    The Need: An organizer that can support you in making your own decisions and give you the confidence to know you can achieve success.

    You need coaching if you:

    • Feel overwhelmed or anxious at the thought of organizing

    • Recently experienced a life change or transition (divorce, new baby, pandemic)

    • Are comforted by the idea of having someone alongside you while organizing

    The Example: Wanda Seays from King George, VA needed help with her home office. She told me that every time she walked into her home office she was overwhelmed with anxiety. This anxiety was so strong that she couldn’t even begin to make a dent in her paper clutter. We spent an hour clearing Wanda’s desk with the help of her sister. Because I wasn’t in Wanda’s home, she was in control of her space. I only saw the papers that Wanda wanted me to see. Wanda described this process: “The biggest difference for me between virtual organizing and in-person organizing was that I felt less anxious being video coached.” When Wanda needed to make a decision, I would support her with clarifying questions and assure her that there was no wrong answer and that she was doing great. Wanda told me: “I can still hear your voice when the clutter tries to ease back into my office space. Thanks for your patience and compassion.” In this case, the coaching support during our virtual organizing session helped her conquer her clutter even after our Zoom session concluded.

    IV. Accountability: Sustaining Momentum

    "The only way we succeed as a group is not simply following directions, but in keeping each other accountable for our actions."

    ― A.J. Darkholme

    The Need: An organizer that can track your progress from week to week so you don’t backslide.

    You need Accountability if you:

    • Want someone to track your progress

    • Work well with deadlines and a clear goal

    • Know that having someone present during organizing will ensure that you actually organize

    The Example: Every single person needs accountability in order to progress on their organizing journeyit is the most important need. When I work alongside you, my presence ensures that you will sort through those annoying papers. You are not able to say that you will sort through that box and then go take a nap. I can see you! And after that hour of organizing, you have a few homework assignments to complete. On your own, they might get done - who knows? However, if you know that you are meeting with me in a week or two, then you are far more likely to tackle that homework list.

    Virtual Organizing & The Four Needs

    So, there you have itthe 4 organizing needs. And you don't need an organizer to be physically present in order to address those needs. Virtual organizing through Zoom can be even more effective for clients that have anxiety, need a more affordable solution, have small blocks of time, or would like to work at a slower pace.

    What is your organizing need? Let me know…

    Interested in virtual organizing? Set up a free 20-minute call with me or schedule a session.

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