My Clutter is like “Mountains”…

When I get feedback like this from my clients, it makes me feel so wonderful! This is why I love what I do so much…All my clients are worth it!

‘Thanks’ sounds so little for all you have done for me. All your hard work you do  seems effortless to you, but to me is like mountains.

My words, can never convey the respect and adoration that I feel for your ability and capabilities and your willingness to help me, and so cheerfully too!

Thanks again,

M.G.

Downsizing with a Senior (before and after pictures)

Downsizing is not easy for anyone, in fact it’s downright stressful!  Our client, a senior, is moving from a large three bedroom home in to a one bedroom, in-law unit.  There’s so much to consider with a downsizing move. What will the new floor plan accommodate? What do I really need? What should I sell?  What should I donate?  The questions kept coming and swirling around in our client’s head. It’s overwhelming to be sure.  Today, we worked on the garage to make room to store the belongs she plans to take when the house sells.  There are lots of decisions to be made, but this senior was up for the challenge and did fantastic!

 

AFTER
AFTER

“Need” is a Powerful Word

What do you really “need” to keep?  Sorting your stuff can be overwhelming and cause a lot of anxiety.  To put what you really “need” to the test, Michael Tompkins, PhD, a licensed psychologist and board certified in behavioral and cognitive psychology, and author of many books regarding hoarding, suggests when you sort your stuff, ask yourself these three powerful questions:

  1. Is my SAFETY at risk?
  2. Is my HEALTH at risk?
  3. Is my FINANCIAL welfare at risk?

When you ask yourself these questions you may find that you really don’t “need” as much as you want to keep.  He also suggests, if an item is broken – let it go.  If you have others (usually many) – let it go.  If you don’t repair “it” in a month or two — let it go!  Other sorting tips suggested by Tompkins, is to use a three box sorting system:  HARD to toss; MODERATE to toss; and EASY to toss. By practicing these sorting tips, you will build a level of tolerance, which leads to less anxiety.

Toss, Donate, Keep…

Spring is in the air!  Can you feel it?  Spring symbolizes a fresh beginning. Whether it’s your garage, kitchen, bedroom, or attic, you can count on Cazares Organizing to be your support and get you started in the right direction. Together, I will help you “get the point” of tossing, donating, and keeping just the right amount of stuff.

Hoarding and Cluttering, Think Outside the Boxes: Innovation in Action

The 18th International Conference on Hoarding and Cluttering, sponsored by the Mental Health Association of San Francisco, was held at Cal  Berkeley, March 22-23, 2018.  This two day conference was enlightening, enriching, and educational! I learned about new research and techniques that will help my clients who suffer from the mental disorder of Hoarding.  As a part of my studies with the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) to earn my credential as a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization (CPO-CD®), I was honored to meet Dr. Chia-Ying Chou, who has worked with 130 individuals with Hoarding Disorder.  Her emotional and informative presentation on Experience Compassion Focused Therapy for Hoarding, was an uplifting, refreshing new approach for treatment of hoarding disorder.  She has been co-developing this new treatment protocol for this mental illness called, Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), with other experts in hoarding.  I was fortunate enough to spend 30 minutes with Dr. Chou, a related professional, to talk about ICD and how Professional Organizers like me, who work with clients with hoarding behavior, can work collaboratively.   Together, we can both help support our clients who have Hoarding Disorder.         

I was also lucky enough to learn from Michael Tompkins, PhD – a licensed psychologist, who spoke on Three Essentials Coaching Skills:  Sorting, Making Decisions, and Follow Through as it relates to people who hoard.  He explains, “People who hoard lack several skills that are necessary to declutter their living environments, effectively.”  To start the process of sorting, he suggested the use of three boxes, labeled   1) Impossible to let go; 2) Moderately impossible to let go; 3) Easy to let go.  To demonstrate this process, audience members sorted their purse or wallet, using the three categories above. We examined our “rules” for putting the items into each of the three categories.  Then we were challenged to ask ourself:  Do we really need these things? By letting go, is my “safety at risk?”; Is my “health at risk?”; and, is my “financial welfare at risk?”  When we applied the three questions, our perspective of what was “impossible” to let go changed to “easy”. This was a powerful, yet basic demonstration on the value we place on material things that we think we “need”.  

Happy Spring…and Tax time (sigh)!

Are you getting your taxes ready?  It’s “that” time of year again, but it’s also a time when we give a big sigh, looking at at all the years of past returns we’ve been storing. How many years of returns are you storing? I often get the question, “How long do I need to keep my tax returns?” As we look at their decades of returns!  As a Professional Organizer, it is not my role to advise how long you need to keep your returns, BUT, you can google the topic on IRS.gov a get your answers. Really, generally speaking, it’s only 3 years (really!), of course, there are exceptions.  You can read all about those exceptions, but in general know that the 3 year period is tied to the IRS statute of limitations.

The next questions is, “What do I do with all my decades and decades of tax returns”?  I recommend shredding them (if you don’t need to hang onto your records longer than three years. DISCLAIMER:  Of course, get the “OK” from your CPA.).  Tax returns contain sensitive information that identity thieves would love to get their hands on your returns!  I know, it’s hard to discard them, so if you fall into that category, your options are storing them in a fire-proof safe, OR better yet, consider scanning them and storing them in a Cloud service, like Dropbox. Scanning your returns takes up far less space, and is easier to organize than a stack of papers. The silver lining — the IRS accepts (legible) digital copies of documents.

The Rewards of Organizing

My featured image is of a client’s dining room table. Look really hard…Do you see the table in the room in the above picture?  Probably not, but the light hanging over her dining room table will give you a hint.  “Hoarding Disorder” is now recognized in the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a mental disorder.  This is a serious disorder and one that I learn more about every time I have a session with any of my clients who have hoarding behavior, and from my studies through the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD).  Recently, I administered the ICD Clutter Quality of Life Scale (CQLS) to my client. The CQLS is designed to measure inward, or subjective, consequences of clutter from the individual’s perspective. The CQLS highlights the various dimensions of clutter impact on quality of life like: Livability of Space, Emotional, Social, Financial. Although my client clearly has hoarding behavior, interestingly enough, she did not consider herself as a person who hoards. However, after taking the CQLS, she now understands the impact her hoarding behavior has on various aspects of her life, especially the livability of space, emotional and social aspects.  We have spent many, many hours together over the past year. Though she is making progress, she admits she is very vulnerable to backsliding.