Coping with COVID – Keep Your Home Organized with NEATSPACES

Coping with COVID – Keep Your Home Organized with NEATSPACES

Between the continuing pandemic and the onslaught of chilly weather here in Ontario, more families will be forced to spend time indoors over the coming months. And more time indoors means more opportunity for mess, as everyone in the family shares the common space and contributes to the common clutter.

The COVID lockdowns are also a source of stress for many – whether it’s professional stress, emotional anxiety, or a general feeling of mental taxation. The situation affects everyone differently, but the common sentiment among families seems to be this: it’s a lot to manage.

In times of stress and worry, it can be easy to neglect your home, but the amassing clutter can only lead to more stress. Whether you’re working from home and need a clean, blank slate within which to do your job, or you are witnessing accumulating clutter in your home that needs to be managed, NEATSPACES can help.

It is common for clutter to accumulate at the best of times, but the challenge of having everyone working under one roof is particularly challenging. In this article, let’s detail how home organization can be advantageous during COVID – especially during the winter months. We’ll talk about its positive potential effects on your work life, your kids’ academic experience, and your whole family’s day-to-day home life.

Mess Is Stress

Most of us know the feeling intimately. When your kitchen is stacked with dishes, your living room strewn with electronics, or your home office littered with papers, you feel on edge. It is distracting, agitating, and overwhelming.

It’s not just you. “Mess causes stress” is a real psychological phenomenon. The reason why messy homes make us anxious has to do with the way our brains interact with physical space. Clutter in the home bombards our minds with excess stimuli, forcing our senses to work overtime to make sense of everything. Your attention can easily shift from your work tasks to those boxes in the corner of the room because that’s what your brain does – it pays attention to stimuli, no matter how insignificant.

Clutter also makes us feel anxious, especially as the task of clearing and cleaning begins to seem insurmountable. This can lead to feelings of guilt and embarrassment, which further cause stress and personal devaluation.

With the help of a professional home organizing company like NEATSPACES, you can put an end to the clutter once and for all by setting yourself up for success. Whether you want to nip a growing problem in the bud, or you need help clearing and cleaning a very cluttered house, we’re available to help.

 If a less urban environment is part of your Covid plan and you need help moving out of the city then NEATSPACES offers end-to-end move management to make the process easier. We also help people who want to cut down on clutter by downsizing. If you, or an elderly parent, is considering downsizing, our professional downsizing services will help sort, organize, sell, donate and dispose of your possessions, working side-by-side with you to set up a clean, organized new home.

downsizing services

Work Easier with a Clean Home

Because of the pandemic lockdowns, an estimated 40% of Canadians are working from home. Compare that to the less-than-10% that worked from home in 2018 – it’s an unprecedented increase!

Many families are still trying to work out the kinks. How do you stay focused when there are kids shouting in the other room? How do you convert the spare bedroom into a functioning workspace? And what happens when all the clutter that typically gets organized at the office – the papers, work supplies, electronics, and cords – all of a sudden start to pile up?

To convert your home into a work-friendly space, start by decluttering. NEATSPACES’ home organization services can help you implement easy-to-follow organization systems so that your home office feels like a sanctuary, including the following:

  • A paper filing system that’s simple and works
  • Paper organization system for self-employed individuals, so you don’t have to consult your shoe-box receipt storage come tax time!
  • A home office and desk organization system so you can be more productive, focused and stress-free

Your work may pile up, but that doesn’t mean the clutter has to as well.

Set Up a Stress-Free School Zone at Home

The pandemic lockdowns are an ever-changing situation. While some kids are schooling in-person at the time of writing, the situation is liable to change. The situation in your very own household may change as well if you choose to pull your children from in-classroom education.

That’s all to say that it’s a good idea to clear a dedicated space in the home for your kid’s education. Like us, kids get distracted by clutter (even more so, in fact) so it’s important to keep a clear, clean space for them to perform their academic best.

Setting up an organizational system that includes your children’s school supplies, workspace, and daily necessities can help them concentrate. NEATSPACES can help clear the excess clutter from your home and set up an organizational system for your children to follow. The happier and more focused they are, the happier and more focused you can be in your day-to-day tasks.

To learn more about how NEATSPACES can help organize your home office and study spaces, check out the FAQs about our services on our website.

Improve Your Day-to-Day with Organizational Systems

Finally, in addition to work and school, there are the daily tasks and activities that benefit from a clear, clean home. It’s difficult to make dinner for the family when the one spatula you need is buried somewhere in the stacks of packed kitchen drawers. It can be hard to stay on top of the kids for cleaning their rooms when the common areas are overwhelmed by clutter. And family games night just isn’t the same when you can’t figure out where among the attic boxes you stored your Monopoly set.

Contact NEATSPACES and let us help improve your day-to-day with intuitive, easy organizational systems. After a long day of school or work, your family will relish in the opportunity to cook, play, and clean in an organized home.

For more information about NEATSPACES clearing and organizing services and NEATSPACES downsizing services in Toronto, don’t hesitate to contact us. We understand that times are stressful right now, and we want to do everything we can to make the upcoming winter as enjoyable as possible for you and your family.

How to Make End of Life Plans: A Checklist for Families

How to Make End of Life Plans: A Checklist for Families

Picture this: a family huddled around the bed of a dying loved one in the hospital emergency room, ICU or hospice, trying to parse out what their parent wanted. “What do we do if they didn’t sign a medical power of attorney?” “How do they want to be buried?” “What do we do with mom or dad’s belongings and assets?” Medical professionals have a term for these moments of confusion – they call it “the hallway huddle.” It’s the scrambling efforts of a family who want to honour the wishes of their unresponsive parent, but can’t figure out how.

Death is a natural and important part of life. Granted, it isn’t one we’re always comfortable talking about, but it is a significant and inevitable rite of passage. And just like other consequential rites of passage – getting married, having kids, buying a first home – it requires proactivity, planning and plenty of open-minded discussions.

To prepare end-of-life plans, get the family together and make a checklist. What do you need to do to avoid the “hallway huddle”? How can you make the settlement of your loved one’s estate as easy as possible?

NEATSPACES is committed to ensuring that you or your loved one’s end-of-life is as smooth, stress-free and straightforward as possible. That’s why, in this article, we’re looking at a few critical boxes you should tick when making end-of-life plans – from creating a will to hiring professional estate services to help organize, declutter and disperse belongings.

Create a Will

Essentially, your will is the legal document outlining how you want your estate divided when you pass away. It is vital to a smooth estate settlement process. It’s always a good idea to seek legal counsel when writing a will, to ensure your documents are properly prepared and witnessed and to ensure your intentions for beneficiaries are crystal clear.

If strict rules around the format, witnesses, or life circumstances (a marriage for example) are not followed, your will can be deemed invalid. Dying intestate (without a will,) means that your next of kin will have to apply to the government to be a trustee or the government disperses your estate with a prescribed formula that may not be in keeping with your wishes. It can be a lengthy, expensive and stressful process. Similarly, your will should be reviewed regularly to ensure that it reflects the most recent estate law and that life events have not altered the validity or intentions in your will.

Wills can be challenged if survivors can prove that the person did not have the legal capacity to write a will on the date it was executed.  Ensure you or your loved one contemplates and executes a will well before the capacity to do so can be challenged.

professional estate clearing services

The first paragraph will identify you stating that this is your last will and testament, and will include your name and address. Next, you’ll name an executor or multiple executors (more on that in a moment,) give that executor the power to pay your debts and include a residual clause outlining how the rest of your assets should be divided.

If you, or your loved one, are making end-of-life plans but have not yet written a will, make that the first order of business.

Choose an Executor

Typically, you choose an executor (or estate trustee, estate representative, etc.) from among your adult children, lawyer, accountant, close friends, spouse and other trusted advisors. It can be one person, or you can name co-executors that will work together. Regardless of whom you choose, the executor’s chief role is to carry out the wishes you laid out in your will and to protect, manage and administer your estate. The more planning that is done upfront, the easier the settlement of the estate is.

When choosing an executor, ensure they satisfy some critical criteria. You want your executor to be responsible and reliable – a steady hand in a potentially tumultuous time. You want them to act impartially but sympathetically when dealing with your beneficiaries. An executor will have to act immediately to locate the will, continue the payment of bills, ensure the deceased’s home is secure and maintained and other assets are preserved. They will have to file tax returns, close bank accounts, cancel credit cards, subscriptions, settle life insurance policies and more.

Hire a trustworthy CEA

Even for a responsible, reliable individual, the role of executor can be overwhelming. Changing family dynamics (including multiple marriages,) scrutiny from “armchair executors,” and the increasingly complex world of estate assets and liabilities can make the job difficult. That’s where a CEA comes in. A CEA – Certified Executor Advisor – is a professional that helps you organize paperwork, provide a checklist of what needs to be attended to in the short term and longer term, and helps with the day to day care of the home and other things on the to-do list, the cancellation of subscriptions or transfer of the names on utilities as examples .

At NEATSPACES, we offer professional, sympathetic and knowledgeable CEA services. We’ll help you help your executor, going the extra mile to make sure that your end-of-life wishes are carried out exactly as you intended.

If you are the family of someone making end-of-life plans, raise the subject of hiring a CEA.

Manage Estate Organization with Professional Estate Services

We understand that end-of-life planning and clearing out the estate of a loved one can be an emotional processes, which is why NEATSPACES is committed to providing patient and compassionate estate organization services in Toronto,  Burlington and the surrounding areas. NEATSPACES helps you manage your estate settlements by decluttering, cleaning and clearing a home so it can be listed for sale.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of furniture, bric-a-brac, sentimental items and heirlooms in your or your loved one’s home. We’ll work with you to develop a game plan for what to keep and what can be sold, auctioned, donated or disposed of. We even offer packing and move management services to make this transitional period as easy on you as possible. We can ship to family or beneficiaries across most of Canada and the US, and we can be the “boots on the ground” for family and executors who live out of province.

Meet with NEATSPACES for a complimentary, in-home consultation, and together we’ll work out how best to achieve your objectives. If you’re moving your loved one in preparation for end-of-life plans, you can also feel free to contact us to get help downsizing a loved one’s home.

Document End-of-Life Wishes

There are various wishes and requests that a will cannot cover, but that are nevertheless important to you and your family. These include specifications for end-of-life care, burial/cremation preferences, organ donation and even questions like “what to do with my Facebook account.”

Convene with family and loved ones to discuss and document the items that matter. If something matters to you or a loved one anticipating death, no matter how small it may seem, it should be recorded, respected and honoured if possible.  

Legacy Planning: Holding a Funeral

When a loved one passes away, you want to honour their legacy and remember them among friends, family and well-wishers.

Traditionally, planning a funeral begins by choosing a method of disposition (burial, cremation, etc.,) contacting a funeral service provider and selecting an officiant to lead the service. But you have to ask yourself: is that how your loved one would want to be remembered?

Maybe they detailed specific requests in their end-of-life wishes, or perhaps it’s up to you to decide how best to celebrate them. A funeral should represent the unique life it’s honouring, so you can opt for a traditional funeral or use your best judgment.

End-of-life planning isn’t always easy to think about, document or discuss, but you’ll be glad you did it. It’s far better to be proactive, prepared and orderly than to leave behind a current of confusion. If you are looking for a Certified Executor Advisor or professional estate organization services, contact us for more information – we’re always happy to help in these tough transitional times.

Building Trust while Helping Seniors Downsize

When downsizing, getting started is often the hardest part.  When we look around at our homes, we are often filled with overwhelm at the volume of items that need to be downsized, donated, gifted, or boxed up to come with us to our next move.  With seniors, it can be even more overwhelming as the items that fill their homes symbolize fun memories and loved ones.  Deciding to downsize is step one but knowing where to begin can leave you at a loss. This is where professional help can make the task lighter and put a skip back in your step.  Professional organizers are trained and equipped to make the process easier and enjoyable.

Get an Early Start

Having someone come into your home and start moving items around is stressful for anyone.  For seniors, who have taken care of themselves for many years, are usually not big fans of this behaviour.  Developing a relationship prior to starting the work is a great way to get familiar with the space and the client before you begin to move or package up anything.  Building a base of trust is an essential first step.

Start Small to Build Trust

The notion of downsizing an entire home is, let’s face it, overwhelming.  Begin by breaking down the home into rooms with the least to the most sentiment items and systematically work your way through.  Starting in an office or den, which contains items with less sentimental attachment, is a great way to nurture the relationship between the organizer and the senior.  Engage in a lively discussion regarding which items will be donated, stored, and kept.  Through this exercise, a bond and a trust will begin to build.  As the trust builds, the client will be more likely to accept the advice and opinions of where to place the bigger, more sentimental items.  The New York Times published a great article about this very approach. 

Work with a Profession specializing in Seniors

At Neat Spaces, we specialize in working with seniors by helping them to determine which of their belongings is best to keep, donate, sell, or gift.  Assisting clients to feel good about their choices is our primary goal.  As a third party, we can help to see beyond the emotion and give each piece the attention it deserves.  There is a great satisfaction that comes from seeing your items re-used or recycled in a new way.  Seeing items find their new home can bring a sense of joy and fulfillment – that’s the part we love!

At Neat Spaces, we specialize in helping seniors navigate downsizing their homes and their possessions.  Organizing is what we love to do, and we want to pass that joy to our clients, so they have the best experience possible.  We are here to lend our expertise, experience, and loving care. Let’s make your downsizing journey and your new home as comfortable as it can be.

Clearing up my life

WOW! What can I say, I am absolutely thrilled with the final outcome of the basement, it has brought tears to my eyes as the basement has been a huge sore spot with me for many years!  I always hated going down there to get something….Please thank all those involved with this project, it’s so greatly appreciated! Thank you once again for “clearing up my life”.

~Jeff, Milton

Look Forward to Change

The leaves are changing. New routines are being established.

There is something indescribable about this time of year that makes us look forward to change.

Continue reading

The Ultimate Summer Checklist!

Welcome Summer! A world of possibilities.

As a kid, is there any better feeling than the last day of school?

As a parent, is there any feeling more overwhelming than end of the school year burnout?

We all know Summer goes by fast. There’s no better time to make your “Summer to Remember” plans.

So how do you make the most of the hot Summer days, long warm nights and keep organized in between?

Bucket List

Create a Summer Bucket list. Places to see and things to do on your free days.

Sit down with your family and agree on activities that will make Summer 2018 incredible!

Include ideas like…

Visits with family & friends
One on one time
Nostalgic Summer activities
Time outside in nature
Time to disconnect
Rest ~ Enjoy some well earned down time

Be Prepared

Wherever you go ~ be prepared.

Pack “Summer Essentials” at the ready.

Pack a bag with anything needed for your journeys.

Water, Sunscreen, healthy snacks. A small cooler is valuable for outings.

Create a swimming bag or tote with suits & towels.

Proper footwear ~ sometimes flip flops are not enough.

PJ’s! Late Summer nights sometimes just happen. It’s ok ~ that’s what memories are made of!

Packing the kids pjs, (just in case) is a veteran move.

Transition your sleeping babes into bed easily if they fall asleep on the car ride home, exhausted from a full day.

Make Something Together

Food, art, crafts, photos, a keepsake.

Create something together. Bake the cookies you loved as a kid. Teach your kids to cook.

Create an arts & crafts closet or cupboard to make art an everyday option.

Take Photos ~ and do something with them, … an album, a scrapbook, a keepsake.

Find an online photo scavenger hunt for you to create together over the Summer.

Make memories with you in the photos together!

Down Time

Not every day has to be go, go, go.

Take time to enjoy the lazy days of Summer too.

Create a cozy, comfy place that inspires reading…a big chair in the corner beside the bookshelf or a backyard hammock or lounge chair.

Join a book club or create a new book shelf, to easily access your Summer reads.

Read a book or series together or just quietly share the space.

Encourage kids to read.

Remind yourself that reading under a tree in the Summertime is a rewarding way to spend the day.

Keep a Routine

Try not to let your routine get too far off track… Wake up times, lunch times, bed times.

Keeping a routine is good, even if it is a loose routine.

Make time for daily rituals, like making your bed in the morning or bedtime routines.

Assign kids daily chores appropriate to their age, to help around the house.

As a part of the family, kids should contribute to the household responsibilities.

Not only will they gain a sense of achievement, but they will also be learning skills to help them as they become adults.

Teamwork makes the dream work.

The quicker the household jobs are accomplished, the faster you will get out the door for Summer adventures.

Enjoy your Summer!

Testimonial

Read what our past client, Angela had to say about Neat Spaces services & please don’t hesitate to contact us if you think we can help you too!

“I am extremely pleased with the whole process and all work done. There can be no price for peace of mind and a restored independence. I was able to enjoy my home this past weekend, and to do several things (including baking!!) I haven’t done in months. I also had the energy to continue the sorting and re-arranging with Jo- Anne’s advice and suggestions echoing in my subconscious. Now that’s a very relieved client! So, with many thanks, I will certainly be back to you, and have already sung your company’s praises to several people”.

Angela Collett

How are YOU?

Have you ever had someone ask, “How are you?” and the answer that comes to mind is … “Busy”

If the answer is yes, it may be time to stop and reflect for a moment.

Is busy really even an answer? Is it a defence? A mindset?

Socrates once said, “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”

These are busy times, no doubt ~ but perhaps it’s time to change the mantra.

A simple mantra can help remind you what is really important ~ in an instant.

Find Inspiration

Replace the word Busy with Blessed.

What makes you happy? What do you wish was more of a priority in your life?

Less busy and more…

  • Time with loved ones
  • Me time
  • Time outside in nature  
  • Family time
  • Time to disconnect
  • Purpose
  • Rest

How do you wish to spend this life?

Write down your intentions and turn those good intentions into actions habits.

Make it happen.

Set Some Goals

Spring to Summer can be a busy transition time. Long days, short nights.

Moving. Schools Out. Holidays.

It’s a great opportunity for change. A time to set some goals.

Recognise what eats up your schedule to create this busy feeling.

Identify little things that agitate you. Perhaps a few small changes would ease the stress.

Create new habits. Embrace the positives and don’t aim for perfection.

Can We Help?

Our motto is ~ Simplify Your Life ~ Get organized with Neat Spaces.

If there is any way we can be of service to help you to be less busy and make this a Summer to remember ~ Contact Us.

What is on your Wish List?

More time with friends & family at mealtimes.  A tidy pantry & kitchen ready for new recipes.

An organized closet with wardrobe to get you out the door efficiently, in the morning.

A clean garage with sports equipment & leisure toys at the ready for family fun.

You may be surprise at what you can accomplish with a few changes.

Less Stress. More Time.

Let us help you change the narrative.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new”. ~Socrates

Now, ask yourself the question “How are you?” And know what you would like the answer to be.

 

Read what Angela had to say about our services.

Testimonial

There can be no price for peace of mind

I am extremely pleased with the whole process and all work done. There can be no price for peace of mind and a restored independence. I was able to enjoy my home this past weekend, and to do several things (including baking!!) I haven’t done in months. I also had the energy to continue the sorting and re-arranging with Jo- Anne’s advice and suggestions echoing in my subconscious. Now that’s a very relieved client! So, with many thanks, I will certainly be back to you, and have already sung your company’s praises to several people.

Angela Collett

Finally! Feels like Spring 🌷

 

Spring 2018 has been a long time coming.

Hooray! Finally had some warmer temperatures.

This unpredictable weather, can be hard to dress for.

While it may not be time for flip flops and sundresses quite yet, there is plenty to do now to transition from your Winter wardrobe to Spring ready.

Winter Coats & Heavy Knits

I don’t know about you, but I am so ready to be done with heavy sweaters and winter coats.

This year, it’s been hard to know when to be done with the snow tires and Winter wear.

Winter coats, hats & mitts, time to move ~ you’re taking up a lot of valuable real estate.

Access your entry storage closet and clean out pockets, as you go.

If you have a storage area they can be moved to, it is well worth the effort ~ Even if it takes a small spend on a rolling rack to store them properly in an out of the way storage space, consider it.  

Free your entry closet for lighter outerwear to grab and go.

Try It On

As you go through your wardrobe, try it on – If it is too-short, too-tight, too-I’ll never wear this again – get it gone.

Keep, Swap, Sell, Gift, Donate. Decide which route to choose for unwanted items.

If it’s unwanted and still in “Excellent Used Condition” EUC or Brand New with tags (*sigh) “BNWT” ~ Consider a swap with friends. If you’d like to try a swap but you’re not sure how to start; lead with accessories that are one size fits all.

A Pop of Colour

Bring out a few of your more colourful pieces to have at the ready.

Flats and scarves are great for unpredictable temperatures.

While it may be a little early to go all in for Spring, why not add just one item with a pop of Spring to your favourite outfit? A floral scarf to add to your black basics.  Colourful flats or a brightly coloured purse that revives your neutral look. Fun, multicoloured tank tops and T-shirts are great layering pieces.

Take the Time

Put together new combinations. Figure out your sizing and discard items that don’t work and are hanging around for no good reason. Many clients find the hanger trick useful when trying to pare down an overwhelming wardrobe. The idea, is to turn around your hangers in the same direction and reverse the hanger as you wear the items. Identify favourites from seldom worn pieces.

Go through your Spring clothes and Summer pieces too, the steady warmer weather will be here soon.

Take the time now to clean out your closet and look for new pieces to freshen up your wardrobe.

Welcome Spring.

A clean, organized closet makes getting dressed a whole lot easier & you deserve it!

 

Testimonial

See what past clients have to say about our services. We can help you with reclaimed space too!

“Just wanted to thank you so much for your help with our front hall closet and back hall closet near the kitchen.  They look amazing and are going to make such a huge difference in our everyday lives. The closet by the kitchen was such a great way to reclaim some well needed storage. I’m looking forward to working with you again”.

S and W Vella, Burlington

Smooth Moves with NEAT SPACES.

 

Congratulations on your new home!

Are you ready to take on the move? Let’s be honest, it’s not easy to move homes.

SO much to do during this exciting time and where to start?

Of course, there is a long list of jobs and strategies for packing, purging, organizing, transporting and re distributing. The good news is there are experienced professionals available for hire…full service movers, labour only helpers, storage companies, home organizers…US!

 We can help you with any of these tasks ~ More on that later.

Here are a few other ideas to keep the stress levels down and transition smoothly.

Say Your Goodbyes

Whether you are moving around the corner or around the globe it’s nice to keep in touch with the community you have created.  While it is much easier to keep in touch with your people these days, sometimes life gets busy and it’s easy to lose touch. There are plenty of tools for communication, so brush up.

Maintain connections, update your contact list and be sure to gather info from your neighbours or locals that you see regularly and wish to keep in your world. How is it you see these people regularly and somehow don’t have their contact information? Your routines may change with a move, so get their info now.

Send a mass message out to keep your people in the loop. They may not realize your timeline. It ’s nice to let people know where and when you will be moving on and give them time to say their farewells too. Let your important people know how they can keep in touch ~ Your new address, email or if they can reach you online through a favourite social app like Facetime or Google Hangouts.

Make time for those bittersweet goodbyes.

Take some photos. Keepsake photos to preserve memories you treasure. The friends you’ve made, your home before you pack and after, the view out the window, your garden. Although you have a lot to do, it’s nice to enjoy the memories and accomplishments made here. Preserve it for reflection.

Stay Positive

The final weeks leading up to the move will be a whirlwind of activity.

It’s important to stay hopeful and confident. Try not to be weighed down by the enormity of the tasks.

Stay focused on the important things and don’t sweat the small stuff. Work towards solutions.

It may be an emotional time so try to stay constructive, especially if you are easily distracted or tend to procrastinate.

 

End Well ~ Begin Well

Take pride in how you shift surroundings and gain confidence in your next steps.

Be respectful to the new owner taking over the space you are leaving.

Handover the place in a state you would want…on time, clean and don’t assume they want any of your items. Something you may think has value and is easier to leave, may not be something the new resident wishes to look after. Take it all with you.

Make the space clean and ready for the new owner. This good deed will carry you well through your move. Wrapping up loose ends in a tidy manner will contribute to the happiness and success of your move too.

The Rest

Yes, there is a great deal of planning and packing to do.

Let us at Neat Spaces help you strategize and create a plan for your smooth move.

If you think you this will be a highly stressful transition for you, we can help relieve the burden.

Don’t worry ~ Call us.

Here’s how we’ve helped other customers manage their changes.

Testimonial

For a single mom of 3 that has zero time, Wendy and her team made it easy and stress free preparing a home with 13 years of stuff in it for a move. Wendy lifted this task from my shoulders. She accomplished this in within 3 days notice and it took 5 days till completion. Wendy is a miracle worker. I am having her back to organize my new home as we unpack.

Rene Torrington