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.

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

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

What’s for Dinner?

Does this question create a feeling of excitement or anxiety?

Schedules are packed and it’s a challenge to regularly feed our family healthy & delicious meals.

With the cost of groceries on the rise, there is certainly a benefit to keeping an eye on your weekly spend and making the most of your on-hand items before they expire while reducing waste.

Spring is a great time to give your pantry and refrigerator an overhaul.

Where to Start

A first step to building a better panty is a good thorough cleaning.

Whether you like to take every single item out or work shelf by shelf take the time to clean.

Get rid of the dust and grime and sticky spots. Sort and categorize, putting like items together.

Baking, breakfast items, condiments, you get the point.

Rotate product and discard any expired items.  

Get to the area way at the back that you don’t even have access to anymore.

Are you making the most of your pantry real estate? Create order, don’t allow items to become hidden.

Rearrange larger items at the back so they can be seen. Create a use first zone or drawer.

Next, do the same with your fridge and freezer.  Clean, rotate and toss.

Inventory

Take stock. 

Whether you program it in your phone, find the perfect printable on Pinterest or prefer an old fashioned handwritten version ~ create a list to work from.

Be mindful of your inventory prior to making your grocery shopping lists.

Make this new habit a priority.

A clear picture of what you have on hand and what you need will help you steer clear of impulse buys.

As you are taking stock create a meal plan for a couple of nights. Add missing ingredients to your list.

Be Inspired

Change your habits and create new positive meal rituals.

Create a compilation of pantry recipes.

Stock up on versatile canned goods like tomatoes, lentils and beans.

Try a meatless night once a week, why not try “Meatless Mondays”?

Drink smart. Choose water more often ~ It’s healthier and budget friendly.

Food Waste

It’s easy to see why fruit and vegetables among the most wasted food items.

Consider buying frozen fruit and vegetables or freezing items for soups and smoothies before they become unusable.

Brush up on storage tools and tips on how to keep items like produce longer.

Did you know celery packed in foil will last longer? Some produce items keep longer when stored separately. 

Items like tomatoes, potatoes and onions should not be kept in the refrigerator but in a cool dry place.

Enjoy

Sure, schedules may be hectic but don’t underestimate the value and comfort of a good family meal.

Life is easier with a well stocked kitchen.

With a little planning you can keep the budget in line. Have the pantry and refrigerator tidy and organized for preparing amazing meals your family will love.

 

See what Pamela, a past client had to say about Neat Spaces helping a loved one downsize in this Thank You…  

 “Everything went great with the downsizing – she was very impressed that they even looked after salting her walkway and giving her a hug at the end put her right at ease – Thank You”

The Sandwich Generation

In our profession, we see many people of the “Sandwich Generation” wishing to lighten their load.

Just what is the “Sandwich Generation”?

The term Sandwich Generation was coined in 1981 by social worker Dorothy Miller, to describe caregivers that found themselves “sandwiched” by the responsibilities of caring for aging parents while supporting their own young children.

It can be stressful, busy, and often very demanding to balance this role.

Sometimes we help to downsize or move. Other times, our purpose is to help get a handle on a home’s overwhelming contents.

It may be something as simple as putting new systems in place to make the paperwork or chores more manageable, that creates a big impact.

There’s Help

The Canadian Government recognizes with our aging population, more and more Canadians are encountering this role. A webpage dedicated to aiding caregivers can be found through here. With resources and tips for balancing work and responsibilities, as well as links to supports and services.

This information can aid in developing a plan that works for you and your family.

Click here for more information.

Schedules & Planning Ahead

It is an incredible challenge to balance commitments as the caregiver to elderly parents and children.  

Schedules are key in keeping appointments and commitments straight.

It may be helpful to create a Home Command Centre to keep track of dates and obligations.

A family Calendar is key ~ electronic, paper or both – it should be the easily shared.

The managing of paperwork can be overwhelming too so there is value in a processing system that works!

By customizing your systems to your own organizing style, you can achieve success.  An effective filing system and organized storage solutions for documents is invaluable. Documents should be filed correctly and be easily accessible. In the case of emergencies, it is crucial to have important documents and information close at hand.

Contact Us

We are happy to help busy families and individuals create organizing systems within their home.

Do you have a home office that just needs to be organized to be functional? A storage catch all space that needs to be converted to living space?

If it’s a specific problem area that can be addressed, we can work together creating a path for you to move forward and continue to stay organized. It can be difficult to find enough time in the day to fulfill the work and home demands. We’d be happy to assist with moving, downsizing & an estate sale or a household clear out.

See how we’ve made a difference with past clients …

Thanks for making the move so easy for my mom. I appreciate it. She is very comfortable with you and it made a huge difference for her. With you and your team showing up, my mom told me that she felt safe and totally prepared to move. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, as it truly means a lot me.  E. Welsh, Oakville

Holiday House Guests

The Holiday Season is upon us. 

Christmas carols, festive décor, visiting family, holiday parties and …house guests. 

It’s the perfect time to review guest and host etiquette, should your plans include overnight visits.

Guest Etiquette

Arrive on time. 

Arrange to have clear arrival and departure times and dates and stick to it.

Come bearing gifts – dessert, wine, flowers. Be creative & personalize it.

Make your stay effortless – Clean up after yourself!

Donate to the household. Whether it’s conversation or jobs. Offering to chauffeur the kids to sports or walking the dog. Bonus points. It’s nice to feel like a part of the household and helpful to your hosts.

Offer to cook or take them out for dinner. For an extended stay, why not do both?

Always abide house rules- shoes off, no smoking etc. Follow their lead.

Respect their schedules. Bedtimes, work schedules or homework time. 

Life does not stop just because you are a guest. Let them have time to themselves. Don’t expect to be entertained or catered to. Entertain yourself and give them some time to themselves too.

A well-mannered guest brings their own toiletries. Remember to pack the essentials.

Don’t be critical, be grateful for their invitation. Enjoy their home, company and hospitality.

Bring a thank you card and a gift of appreciation to leave for your hosts, at your departure.

It’s wise to be a gracious house guest, especially if you want to be invited back.

 

Reminders for a Courteous Host

Preparing for a visit – Of course, there will be house cleaning to do! Clean & declutter and clean again.

While you are sprucing up the place have a look for items that may need to be fixed ahead of a visit. 

Fix that leaky faucet or that handle you have to jiggle, rather than having to explain it – or worse… avoid awkward situations.

Try to make the space neutral by removing photos and personal objects. Put away sensitive or important items. Child proof and/or pet proof, if necessary.

Style a clean, comfortable space. New fresh bedding & towels. 

Create closet space with extra hangers or a few drawers.

Make useful items handy, like an umbrella, a waste basket, a clock, a mirror.

Revisit the thermostat temperature and provide extra blankets. 

Anticipate your guests needs and provide thoughtful touches.

Place nightlights in bedrooms.

Clear a plug for guest charging items. Include a card with the wifi info. Expert level… print it & frame it, so it won’t get lost or misplaced.

Stock up on extra toiletry essentials too, just in case.

Snacks and caffeine are vital! 

Set up a coffee, tea and snack station so they don’t have to wait for you in the mornings.

Communicate well ahead of the visit- know your guest’s favourites and allergies.

Be sure to confirm travel arrangement details, especially the meeting time and place. 

Do they need to be picked up? Provide directions. 

It would be considerate to accommodate a parking spot upon arrival.

Let your guest know your schedule.

Consider drawing up an itinerary. Especially if it is an extended stay. 

It will avoid confusion – especially if they wake up wondering where you are!

Your guest will appreciate some alone time too.  

Try to reconnect by the end of the day. 

 

Have Fun

Plan as much as possible, but also remember to look forward to the visit. 

Don’t aim for perfection. Your guests are not there to be critical. 

Keep in mind the goal is to enjoy the time spent together!

Welcome your guests into your home. Give them the tour upon arrival.

Have fun and be proud of your home and the accommodation you are providing. 

Help them to feel at home.

I hope you have a memorable visit filled with love and laughter.

Need Help?

Take the stress out of preparing for your guests arrival by enlisting our help.

Should you want help getting ready for your Christmas guests, our experienced, trustworthy team is available!

You will be surprised at how quickly NEAT SPACES can turn your cluttered spaces in neat spaces.

Happy Holidays!

 

Testimonial

Read what satisfied customers like Carolyn from Burlington have to say about NEAT SPACES:

“I couldn’t be more pleased. Thanks to NEAT SPACES I now have my basement reclaimed. I was able to have Christmas gatherings in our old recreation room with my family. They remembered it from their own childhood, which was awesome. So, I now have my entire house completely reorganized and purged. Finally, it’s livable and entirely my own, rather than me living in my parent’s home. Of course, there are plenty of reminders of my childhood left on purpose, but it’s MY home now. They did an awesome job, I was fortunate to have their guidance. Thank you”.

Getting Started in the Garage!

The garage tends to gather items throughout the year.  

Items accumulate, until there is no longer room for vehicle’s to be housed. 

As Canadians, we know what its like to wake up to a snow-covered car…groan.

Frosty mornings scraping ice from your car windows…phooey.

Car doors frozen shut at THE most inconvenient time.

Frequently used, often neglected – your garage could use some devotion and NOW is the time.

Free yourself of garage clutter and reclaim your parking space ahead of the Winter months.

Do it. You’ll be so glad you did.

Getting Started

Set a realistic timeline and budget.

Is this a task to be handled in a day, a weekend or should it be broken down into smaller tasks where you will see progress bit by bit and work towards this goal? 

Some people like to clear out every item before putting it back away ~ if this is you, plan around the weather forecast and at a time with little else in your schedule. 

Are you able to lift your belongings alone? Maybe you should you recruit help. 

Many hands make light work.

A clean garage benefits all, this could be a job the whole family can get in on.  

Use of Space 

Decide how and where you are going to park your vehicle and devise a layout.

Start by paring down your belongings. Evaluate. Keep, donate, discard. 

Choose the necessary items to keep and categorize like objects in your garage.

For example: sports equipment, automotive, gardening gear, tools and hardware, seasonal décor items and cleaning products to name a few.  

Create zones to place like items as you remove them from the garage, to be put back together. 

A place for everything & everything in it’s place. 

Embrace the idea that each item should have a place to be stored and it should be tidily returned there when not in use.

 

Maximize Storage 

There are many solutions to make the best use of storage space.

So many options for hooks, shelves & storage systems to consider. 

Reclaim unused space. Think vertical too. A clear floor is necessary for a clean sweep.

Organize the garbage/ recycling systems and make them easily accessible.

Formulate a plan the keep waste to a minimum and a system to store it without it taking over valuable real estate. Stackable systems are a great solution.

Improvements

Make improvements as you go. 

Brighten up your workspace with proper lighting. 

Review the threshold seal, make sure it properly meets the garage floor to keep out water, cold air and critters.  

Perhaps certain items would be better stored in a different place? 

Consider safety. Items like propane tanks should not be stored in the garage. 

They are best kept where it’s well-ventilated, so store them elsewhere. 

Always have an up to date fire extinguisher handy.

 

Know When to Ask for Help

Sometimes the organized disintegration happens over several years and it may feel too overwhelming and stressful to tackle this task on your own.

If so ~ Call Us for help or inspiration.  www.neatspaces.ca

We can help you to reconnect with your space and have success in reaching your goals.

Time and again, our clients tell us they just didn’t know where to start. 

We will help you start AND finish. It’s worth it. 

The satisfaction of finally being able to park your car in the garage, not to mention the time saving benefits … you’ll be grateful you did. 

Love your garage again!

 

Hear what Jeff had to say about the service & results he received working with Neat Spaces.

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

Saving Time in the Kitchen!

Autumn can be an overwhelming time and it can leave you feeling drained. 

It’s never easy to juggle a jam packed extra-curricular schedule, homework help, making lunches and the stress putting a healthy dinner on the table at a reasonable hour. 

It’s a challenge, no doubt, but we can try. 

Here’s some simple tactics to tame the kitchen chaos and find more time in your day.

 

Your Pantry

Be Prepared.  Keep your pantry well stocked. 

Pro Tip: Use quality storage containers to preserve bulk or unpackaged food items.

Buy frequently used items on sale & in quantity. 

Organize & rotate regularly to avoid waste and to keep inventory.

Label, Label, Label. You will be more efficient and it looks fabulous!

Bigger fridge? A Lazy Susan will work well in there.

 

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Grocery Shopping & Meal Planning

An organized shopping list has many benefits. Less store visits will save time & money.

Buy extra staple items like eggs, milk and bread to avoid extra trips.

Try to organize your grocery list according to the store layout to save time and avoid missing items.

Shop the flyers, especially big money savers like meat & produce items. 

Give yourself extra points for a budget friendly list and in season fruit and vegetables!

Plan your meals. Start by making a list of your family’s favorite meals. Ask the kids as the answer may not be what you think it is.

Next, break down ingredients required to prepare each meal. 

Craft your grocery list based on several weekly choices. 

Change it up each week and try to add a new family approved recipe each month. 

Bonus points if it’s a good crock pot or one pot recipe! Less dishes? Yes, please! 

 

Veggies First

Busy days, means growing kids are working up an appetite. 

How often are you prepping for dinner and they sneak past to raid the fridge or pantry because they just can’t wait!? They stare, fridge open for something they can grab quick. 

Beat them to it. Why not put out a veggie plate with dip ahead of dinner. 

When they reach for the fridge door let them know it’s the only appetizer option. Help yourself.

They may just be soooo hungry they dust it. Leftovers? Pack them up for tomorrow’s lunch box.

Kids eating healthy, without your familiar dinner time plea to “finish your vegetables” is a win, win.

 

Testimonial

We enjoy working closely with our clients to help with their specific needs.

See what Kathy had to say about her experience with Neat Spaces.

“Wendy was just the right person to help me get out from under boxes and bags that filled my basement. I knew I needed to purge but… She listened when I whined and pleaded to keep things, but then showed me how every single item had a place. She took things to donation centers and women’s items to a shelter, art materials to a non- profit school. Then she separated the recycle into every category imaginable; there was next to no ‘throwing away’. It was great! Thank you, Wendy!!”

Kathy Brownlow