the shrink ‘rap: issue 5

the shrink ‘rap: issue 5

In this issue:



Transitioning into a New Home with Less Stress

The summer is the busiest time of year for residential moves. When you anticipate the summer, you welcome thoughts of relaxation, vacation and fun times with family and friends. The thought of moving (one of life’s five most stressful events) probably fails to make the list of things you WANT to do this summer. However, for one reason or another, you find that you have been signed up for the task.

Follow these simple tips to make your moving experience a little less stressful:
First things first – Get rid of whatever you don’t use, need or love. This means – ditch the clutter! The more you have, the more you have to pack, move and unpack. The more boxes you need, the more boxes you have to pay for, and this also means that you’ll need a bigger moving truck! Tossing the clutter will save you time and money.

Fill out mail forwarding forms for each family member at Call OneSwitch at 1-888-255-7982 to have your magazines forwarded. Have your magazine labels available when you call for faster service. In addition to having mail forwarded, compile a list of all correspondence and bills that you regularly receive, including catalogs. Occasionally mail does not get forwarded in a timely fashion, and you don’t want to find yourself charged with late payments because you did not receive a bill on time. The list will serve as a checklist to ensure that you are receiving all of your mail in your new home.

If you plan on packing yourself, start gathering boxes of various sizes from grocery stores and dollar stores. Ask a store manager what day shipments arrive and then ask if you can take the empty boxes. Banana boxes are great boxes for books.

If you are hiring professional movers, keep this in mind – Professional movers pack with the purpose of filling each box. They pay little attention to packing in an organized fashion and will often grab unrelated items and stuff them in a box together. The more organized you are before you move, the more likely you are to have like items packed together. If your kitchen counter is covered with baby toys, laundry and tools, don’t be surprised if you find this stuff in the same box as your spices. Do your research to find a reputable mover before signing a contract. Check out

Pack a FIRST ON, FIRST OFF box. This box should be the last one loaded on the truck and the first one taken into the new house. Here are some of the key items this box should contain: paper plates and cups, plastic silverware, napkins, prescription and allergy medications, paper towels, snacks, bottled water, a phone, a cell phone and charger, address book, a change of clothes for each family member, light bulbs, tape, cleaning supplies, cash/credit cards/checkbook, scissors, games/toys (if you have kids that need to be amused), and pet food and supplies. It’s also helpful to have a list of all companies involved in helping you get settled into your new house (i.e. utility companies, moving company, real estate agent, school phone numbers).

If possible, take all valuable documents and items with you instead of loading them onto a moving truck. Such items are jewelry, family heirlooms, financial account numbers/statements, and all vital documents (birth certificates, social security cards, passports).

If you are using professional movers, the following items are not legal to transport by moving van: fuels/oils, any aerosol cans, paint/varnishes, flammable liquids, bleach, firearms, matches, candles, corrosives, food in glass jars, perishable foods, and plants (Source: northAmerican Relocation Services).

Be prepared to discard these items appropriately after the movers have finished packing.

If you are packing yourself, make life a bit easier by having boxes delivered to right to your door! Purchase boxes and moving supplies, determine how many boxes of each size you will need, and learn how to pack each item.

Number each room of your new home prior to the move (kitchen – room 1, master bedroom – room 2 etc.). Use a floorplan or diagram to indicate each room’s corresponding number. Post this diagram near each entrance of the new home and at the top of each staircase. Number boxes according to the rooms in which they belong (all kitchen boxes will have number 1, master bedroom boxes will have number 2). The numbering system makes it easy for those helping you move put boxes in the appropriate rooms. Another alternative to this system is to use color coded stickers to identify each room.

Scout out the storage space in your new house before move-in day and assign a home for everything. The unpacking process will be much easier if you are able to organize as you unpack by putting things where you ultimately want them to end up. Don’t spend money on organizing products for your new space until you measure and determine if such products are even needed.

Unpack the kitchen first. The kitchen is the most frequently used room in the house and takes the longest to unpack. Focus on the bedrooms and bathrooms next. Save the attic, basement and garage for last.

If you truly want to experience a stress-free move, hire a professional organizer to unpack your boxes for you. He/She will not only unpack your boxes but set up your new home in an organized fashion, implementing organizational solutions that will make the best use of your new space. Note: Some professional organizers do not provide relocation services. Ask any prospective organizer if he/she has experience in this area.

As always, do whatever you can to make your project fun. Recruit the help of friends, order takeout and play some music. Good luck!

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Garage Sales

Enhancing Your Sales (and Getting Rid of Your Clutter!)

Perhaps you’re moving and want to clear some clutter before the big day. Maybe you’re just trying to clear out your basement so can remodel it. You find yourself surrounded by stuff and think you could probably get some decent money for your treasures. It’s time to have a garage sale (also called yard or tag sales).

Putting together a garage sale is a lot of work. To make your garage sale a success you have to be prepared AND willing to put in some time beforehand to get everything organized.

Here are some tips to make your garage sale a success:

Pick a date for your sale. Plan to have a one day sale, but select an alternate date in case it rains. Start your sale early in the morning (7 or 8am is usually best) since the avid garage sale attendees are typically early risers. End your sale in the mid to late afternoon, and be prepared to lower your prices at the end of the day to move merchandise. Arrange to drop off or have a charity pick up all items that are not sold by the end of the day. You do not want to bring the stuff back into your house.

Advertise. Once your date is selected, make large, bright visible signs and post them on streets in and around your neighborhood. Make sure to include the date, your address, the time and rain date. Drive by your signs to make sure they are visible from the road. Also, place an ad in the local paper and mention some of the great items that you’re selling (designer clothes, furniture, kids’ toys).

As soon as you make the commitment to have a garage sale, start surveying your house (every nook and cranny) for items you no longer need or use. Use boxes or bags to separate items into like piles – all books together, all clothes together etc. Store all sale items in one central location until you are ready to price them. Motivate your kids to get rid of unused items by offering them the proceeds from their sale items.

Recruit help for the sale. You may get busy talking to customers or need to take a break to use the restroom. You want to make sure someone is there to help manage the sale.

Price every item. Realize that you probably won’t get rich from having a garage sale. You should expect that each item will sell at approximately 1/5 of it’s retail price. This guideline is just a general guideline; sometimes you will get more or less for a particular item. If you don’t want to tag each item with monetary amounts, you can use colored stickers (red for $1.00 items, green for $5.00 items etc.). If you choose this method, make sure to post a few large poster boards indicating what each color means. Realize, as sad as this may be, that some people will switch sticker prices regardless of how you price things in an attempt to get a better deal. It’s always a bargain to offer items by quantity – 5 for $2. This is a great way to clear your inventory.

Kids’ clothing and toys sell well and attract customers. Adult clothing typically does not sell that well. It may be better to take adult clothing to a consignment store.

Attract more buyers by increasing your inventory. Invite your friends, neighbors and family to bring their unwanted items to your sale.

Display your items in an organized fashion. Use tables and boxes to display like items together. If you have items that are visible and NOT FOR SALE (such as your lawnmower or child’s bike), make sure that these items are marked NOT FOR SALE.

Be prepared for your sale. Have appropriate change on hand (bills and coins of various amounts), a comfortable chair to sit in, bottled water, bags and boxes to help buyers carry away their “treasures”, and a lock box or money belt to keep your earnings safe from wandering fingers.

Remove all neighborhood signs as soon as the sale is over so people don’t knock on your door looking for a last minute bargain.

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Water Cooler Rap

Simple Tips for Daily Living

Quick Tips for Organizing a Bathroom
Resist the urge to bring home “free” samples from hotels. You’re not really saving yourself money if you stuff these items in the back of a closet and forget they’re there. Your storage space is valuable. For the same reason, don’t give in to the “buy one, get one free” sales unless you really need and will use the products that are part of that promotion.

Empty every corner of your bathroom when you’re organizing, and evaluate each and every item before putting things back. Throw away or donate non-essentials, especially if the products are expired or cause skin sensitivity.

If you have “extra” unused bath and body products in nice packaging that you will never get around to using, put them out for your guests or tie them to the top of a package to embellish your wrapped gifts.

Limit the number of bottles in your shower. The more products you have in there, the more opportunity there is for mold to grow (and the more you have to move when you’re cleaning!)

Wipe down your sink and shower after every use. This will save you time when you’re doing your heavy cleaning because there will be less soap and scum buildup.

Use baskets, hooks, and door organizers to free up counter and drawer space.
If you encounter family arguments over who left whose towel on the floor, consider using color coded bathroom items (i.e. toothbrushes, towels, cups) for each family member.

Save time when cleaning by using products like the Clorox Bleach Pen and Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser.

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Ask the Organizer

We’re excited to include another submission to The ‘Shrink Rap’s “Ask the Organizer” section. Please continue to submit your questions by e-mailing them to Every submitted question related to organizing will be included in a future issue of The ‘Shrink Rap.

Q: I have enjoyed watching you on Mission: Organization. I am considering becoming a professional organizer myself. Can you offer any advice on how I should start my business? Thanks
– Leslie, CT

A: Leslie,
I have been asked this very same question many times. There are numerous organizing shows in tv now, and I think that they have made the public more aware of the need for professional organizers.

Becoming a successful professional organizer takes time. My first recommendation is to try donating your services to family and/or friends to see if you enjoy working with other people and their clutter. Doing so will allow you to see what your strengths are and what organizing skills you still need to develop (or perhaps don’t care to develop. You might realize that you hate organizing basements).

I would also recommend reading as much as you can on the subject. Stephanie Culp and Julie Morganstern have written some of the most popular books on organizing.

Research the National Association of Professional Organizers – There are numerous local chapters as well as a national chapter. This organization provides great opportunities for networking and learning more about organizing as a business. You can attend a few meetings as a guest before being asked to join.

There are many organizers, including myself, who mentor new organizers. Hiring a mentor can help you “get your feet wet” in terms of marketing ideas, pricing, tackling difficult situations etc. Most mentoring is done via phone since clients are typically not open to allowing others to “shadow” their organizers.

Best of luck to you.

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Need more help getting organized? Call Cluttershrink® for more information on receiving hands-on assistance organizing your home, office or relocation. Phone consultations, customized seminars, mentoring for new organizers and gift certificates are also available. Call 215.431.0590 or e-mail Crystal Sabalaske at

Posted in Ask the Organizer, Bathroom, Business, Garage Sale, Moving, Organizing, Storage, Words of Wisdom