Your New Cleaning Routine

In this age of government mandated quarantines, you may be without the outside cleaning help you’ve come to rely upon. A loyal reader asked our advice for cleaning routines in this “new normal.”

We recommend the “Tackle a Different Task Each Day” approach and offer this Sample Schedule Adjust as necessary

• Monday: Clothes Laundry — gone are the lenient days for rewearing clothing — be diligent about single wear/use everything
• Tuesday: Kitchen — scrub and sanitize everything (but the floors)
• Wednesday: Bathrooms — scrub, sanitize and sparkle all hard surfaces
• Thursday: Floors — shake out rugs, sweep, mop, vacuum
• Friday: Linen Laundry — Decide the frequency you want for changing the linens. If your household produced a lot of clothes laundry consider doing towels and bed-linens separately
• Saturday/Sunday: “De-Clutter” — pick up and put away anything out

Rule #1 This new normal requires a new approach:
You’re NOT duplicating a professional housecleaner’s approach. They were paid to deep clean and dust picture frames and reflective surfaces. YOU are dusting, vacuuming and sanitizing to maintain a healthy environment.

Rule #2 Eliminate not-in-use rooms — you’re not entertaining visitors
Your cleaning service may have cleaned your house top to bottom. YOU should only clean rooms and areas that are in use. To ensure you don’t overdo it and tire/bore/burn-out from this large and looming task, focus on the priorities: a safe household to lift your spirits while you are spending more time at home.

If you’ve worked us before, you know to start with the floor!

STEP 1: Declutter so you CAN clean
Before cleaning, clear your surfaces so your scrubbing efforts aren’t frustrated by starting and stopping to put items away.

STEP 2: Create a Sustainable Schedule: think task-batching
It may turn out that you HATE wiping down countertops but you love scrubbing tubs and showers. Your kids may discover they like going systematically through the house wiping down doorknobs and light switches but abhor dealing with the vacuum. Barter, get creative, incentivize if you must!

STEP 3: Daily must-do’s keep contagions away
A task-a-day works for the sweeping categories like floors and bathrooms but doorknobs, light switches, keyboards and remotes (the high use, high touch) items in your house are daily “musts.”

If cleaning is new to you – be especially open to tweaking your schedule. Announce to your family if you don’t live alone, that the whole schedule is flexible – and it’s all one big experiment.

We are not working hands-on in homes right now but we are available by email, phone and text to support your efforts. We are still your cheerleaders! Let us know what you’re up to.



Coping with Covid-19 from Home

We doubt anyone will escape this time without at least one challenge.

Socially distancing can be difficult on lots of levels. How well we adapt to change will depend partly on our mindset and the tools available to us to cope with change. Some of us love the freer flow to the day (Joy) and others find the change unsettling (Kelly).

We are not therapists but we are going through the same adjustment.
We suggest you:

Recognize What Is Missing From Your Life due to social distancing guidelines and Find Healthy Substitutes

If group exercise or your gym kept you sane:
• follow a video or online option for exercise
• the great outdoors await (and if you’re in Wynnewood, our dogs are available as “loaners” 😉
If you crave social interaction:
• switch from in-person to online — a positive form of screen time
• go retro and call friends, neighbors or extended family

Especially fun if you don’t talk while playing

If engaging your kids is a struggle: enlist the help of grandparents or out of town relatives to do story-time, play a game online or share family recipes over Facetime
• take advantage of more home-based time to enjoy your family and live in the here and now…current Galfand favorites:

Best w/ at least 
3 reading-age people

Code Names or The Game: everyone plays toward a common goal
If alone time is your thing: 
• institute a quiet hour within your household
• be flexible swapping roles with your partner/kids/housemates in exchange for a little solitude…
If you are missing a sense of purpose:
• check in on extended family members
or neighbors by phone
• cook or bake for others within walking distance and follow extreme hygienic kitchen practices
Lost revenue is the hardest to combat:
• you can (and probably will be forced to) scale back on-line shopping
• get creative with food prep using items from your pantry; it’s money already spent. You can find a recipe on-line for almost anything!

Click here to complete our fun crossword
It will test your organizing know-how and AND you might even win a half hour call with us to solve a current organizing issue.



MAR: Make Adjustments Routinely

Our monthly themed blogs are BACK! (Chalk their return up to 1 positive of social-distancing).

This MAR: Make Adjustments Routinely. We don’t just mean adjust your routine…we also mean make adjustments to your schedule on a regular basis and as often as needed.

I am trying to build in as much structure as I can for myself and for our kids on “extended Spring Break” soon-to-be distance learning from college.

One routine we’ve created is a daily block to cook. I am preparing weekly dinners with more care than I invested when I was working full time. Our kids are making their breakfasts from scratch and preparing meals and baking treats with Joy — a definite benefit to living on the same street!

Joy and grand-daughter, Gefen cooking quiche. We are also scheduling time as a family to watch documentaries we have had on our family list for a while. Maybe YOUR routine will focus on organizing projects you’ve wanted to tackle.
• Or podcasts you’ve been meaning to tune in to.
• Or visit museums on-line for virtual cultural tours.
• Or finally turn to your next few “To Read” titles. 



Keep Organizing Top of Mind

Just like our organizing solutions are tailor-made to suit you, so is this crossword puzzle aimed at keeping your mind engaged and your competitive edge sharp during this time of social distancing.

The first person to complete and submit their answers (via email) will win a half hour phone call with Joy or Kelly to talk through an organizing conundrum.



Shining a Light on Labels

As an organizer, I always follow my client’s lead and only suggest we work on areas THEY identify. Every once in a while, though, I notice an irritating situation that could easily be solved with a label.

This scenario came up a month ago while working in someone’s dressing area; her space has a number of zones with specific task lighting tied to a central panel. 

As we were leaving the space, she went to turn off her make-up area light. Not knowing which switch controlled which light, she ended up flicking every switch til she found the ONE she needed. Her heavy sigh told me this is a chronic problem.

So we fixed her problem — right then and there.

Dressing Area multi-switch light panel

Now, if you know the story of the cobbler who’s kids went barefoot you will understand that just because I see “problem areas” in other people’s homes all day, this does not guarantee that I am a ruthless problem-solver in my own home. Spoiler alert: not every shelf, bin or basket in my home is labeled!

Truth is, not every shelf, basket or bin NEEDS to be labeled. If it is obvious what it is and if no one is having an issue finding what they need, then there is no problem. But confusion breeds stress. 

That same day, I went home and noticed myself doing the same thing to two of our three kitchen switches. That’s when I decided to do for myself what I do for others! So I labeled our switchplate. It’s been a game changer. The only thing I tweaked was what I called them; my daughter did not think “door” made sense so we revised the third switch and now everyone is happy.

Our kitchen is the hub of our home, but now that the weather is warmer, we are spending a lot more time on our front porch. 

Fast forward to the other day, when my husband texted to make sure I turned off the front pathway lights. Our guests had stayed late the night before and he didn’t want to waste electricity. In the daylight, I could not see if the lights were on or off… Couple that confusion with another multi-switch panel and my stress level was rising. Without a partner to check the outdoor fixture’s bulb, it was more exercise than I expected so early in the morning. I figured it out on my own, turned the pathway lights off and did what any smart organizer would do; I labeled each switch. 

This time, my family approved of every label AND my daughter commented the next morning how helpful it was to know which switch controlled which hallway lightl. She had stayed up later than all — not unusual for teenagers — and knowing that we sleep with our door open at night to give our dog freedom, she didn’t want to wake us with a bright light at the top of the stairs.

My labels helped protect my investment of time, saved our daughter from waking us andgranted me an un-interrupted night’s sleep!

Think of where a label or two could help your household function a little better, or brighter or maybe even ensure a better night’s sleep for you. Banish household confusion with a label or two; it’s illuminating 😉

This post was written for the Greater Philadelphia NAPO chapter. Shining a Light on Labels. Click here 



Make Tax Season Less Taxing

Joy and Kelly on set with tax tips folders and wallets

We shared these 3 easy-to-follow tips on the PHL17 morning news: Catch our live segment here. 

1. Systems Save Time AND Cut Stress
• Anything that happens on a repeat basis deserves a thoughtful routine.

2. Learn From Past Mistakes
• Gather receipts and statements in one location.
• “Tax Season” is for filing…the entire year is for tax record compiling.

3. Follow In One – Out One
• Celebrate your freedom to shed the past and plan a shredding party for your support documents.

Joy took a vital behind-the-scenes role as master shlepper and prepper of our tax tips props!



Do Organizers Practice What We Preach?

We recently worked with an annual client: a mom who calls us in once a year to revamp the heavy traffic areas of her home as her family grows and her needs change. She asked: “Do you practice what you preach?” Our answer: YES! We follow 4 basic rules:

The only way to prevent clutter build up is to make sure that everything has a place to live.
Once something has a home, it has to get returned to its home to maintain order in your spaces.
Every system needs to be maintained.
Read proof of how we follow
our most touted advice:

So Kelly LOVES to juice. Fresh lemon juice goes into every salad dressing. Fresh lime juice refreshes most fruit bowls. Many of her fish recipes require loads of citrus. So her juicer, which also has a convenient measuring cup as its “collector” is a true staple in her kitchen. Pictured below on the left, it HAD a primo spot in her most accessible gadget drawer. Until…

Read this story on NAPO Philadelphia’s chapter’s blog…



FEB: Finally Emotional Breakthrough

While relationship advice is not our soapbox, Valentine’s Day prompts us to remind you to fall in love with your stuff. First, you might need to get real honest and admit it’s time to break up with some of your stuff.

FEB: Finally, Emotional Breakthrough. On many occasions — with a variety of clients — we have witnessed emotional breakthroughs that start with a break-up. People find their stuff:

  • no longer brings them JOY
  • doesn’t fit their life anymore
  • is more work to maintain than the value of owning it
  • reminds them of less happy times

Sample Scripts for a Successful Break-up:

• Sorry, you don’t bring utilitarian “joy” to my life anymore

• You take up way too much of my time, attention and energy. Don’t call me, I’ll find you!

• We’ve outgrown each other. I am an adult now. It’s time my space reflected my current status.

Benefits of an Emotional Breakthrough:

Freedom to invite whatever you want into your life

Space to welcome a newer “model” into your life

Confidence to re-envision other aspects of your life that may have stagnated

Courage to create a better reality for yourself in 2019

If you need some hand-holding  to break up with your:
• 30 yr old couch
• crates of grad school notebooks
• banker’s boxes of elementary school papers
• plastic tub of empty photo frames
• garage graveyard of older generation appliances or electronics
— call us. We LOVE helping you fall in love (with your spaces) again!

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