• Chaos to Calm for the Holidays!

    Are you determined to enjoy the holidays this year without feeling overwhelmed? If yes, then we have some tips to help make your goal a reality. Start by creating a Holiday Binder. You will need: a three-ring binder, lined and hole punched paper, Binder Pockets (Avery 786050), Removable labels (Avery 06505), and two - three hole punched pencil cases.

    Insert the Binder Pockets into the binder with lined paper between each of them. Use a Removable label to vertically label each pocket on the lower right hand side with the following categories: Money, Gifts, Entertainment, Decorating, and The Schedule. Insert your pencil cases: one with writing supplies, highlighters, and sticky notes at the front of the binder and the other into the Money section.

    Keep the following items in each section and add as you go along.

    • Money - Keep holiday receipts in the pencil case – add up the categories and have ’actual dollars spent’ to budget next year’s expenses.

    • Gifts – Create a Holiday Shopping List to track your gift purchases during the holidays and throughout the year. If you are mailing gifts view the Canada Post web site to calculate shipping charges and time lines for sending.
    ~ Tip: Include gift receipt when sending gifts.
    ~ Carry a list with family members’ measurements to make shopping easier.

    • Entertainment - Determine how much baking you need to do (gifts, cookie exchange, school) and identify what recipes you plan to make for other entertaining. Check your cupboards to see what supplies you have and what you will need – start your grocery list.
    Tip: Keep copies of the recipes you plan to make in your Holiday Binder.

    • Decorating - Set up a wrapping station and stock it with the necessities: Ribbon, tape, scissors, gift bags, writing supplies, tissue, and gift tags.
    Tip: When bringing out holiday decorations store regular household items in the decoration boxes to save space over the holidays.

    • The Schedule - List all the things you need to do and check them off when you have done it. Allocate time for the necessary To-Do’s such as: Dry-cleaning the linens, getting your hair done (if you get colour you have time to book a manicure while your colour is processing), scheduling the House Cleaner, volunteer activities, grocery shopping, buying flowers, and decorating the house.
    Tip: Schedule all events on the family calendar to avoid conflicts.

    We wish you safe & happy holidays.

  • Organizing the Clothing Closet

    What will I wear today, where are those shoes that go perfectly with this outfit, what about that necklace – where is that necklace? Do you have this conversation in your head or even worse, out loud more mornings than you care to admit?

    We have business dressy, business casual, household casual, sport leisure, and work out wear to name a few of the most common clothing styles. And then we have the shoes, belts, and accessories to compliment each of those styles.

    How can I organize my clothes so that I can get dressed each day without the stress?

    First off you need to start with scheduling in the time and creating a plan.

    If this is the first time attacking your clothing allocate approximately four to six hours.

    The Plan

    Supplies you’ll need:
    •Clothing bags: for out of season, out of size clothes.
    •Hangers: pant/skirt hangers, shirt and suit jacket.
    •Shoe Storage: you can take a Polaroid photo and stick it to the outside of a regular shoebox or purchase transparent shoe/boot boxes.
    •Garbage Bags: the carpenter kind which are incredibly durable.

    Step One:

    Sort your clothes into the following piles.

    b)Casual, sports
    c)To donate
    d)Doesn’t fit but I want to keep it and
    e)Repairs & alterations

    Step Two:

    Separate According to Season and Size.
    Use your immediate closet space, prime closet real estate, for clothes that fit and are in season.

    If you are working your way back to a different size keep like sizes together in another closet. You can keep one or two favourites from the target size group as a motivator but leave the remaining space for what you can wear.

    Put out of season clothing and accessories like summer T’s, scarves, hats and gloves in clearly labelled clothing bags or bins and store them elsewhere.

    Step Three:

    Hang it up
    Put clothing groups back into the closet – long sleeves together, dress shirts together, etc. Remember, you are more inclined to wear what you can see


    Use drawer dividers or organizers to separate knee highs, pantyhose, tights, dress socks, etc

    Donate the items you no longer wear to groups or associations who will use them.

    Step Four:


    Your newly organized closet will make getting dressed each day a stress free activity.

    Visit kAos Group and complete a complimentary Assessment to learn more about your current organizational situation.

  • Clearing the Clutter

    Being organized is a process that can be learned and provides you with the opportunity to enjoy your life instead of suffering with the overwhelmed feeling created by clutter and disorganization.
    Best of all, organizational systems can be created to perfectly suit your personality and lifestyle.

    Tips to Manage the Overwhelmed Feeling

    1. Get a pad of paper and a pen
    2. Give each room its own page
    3. Stand in each room and write down all the things you want fixed in that room

    Example - Bedroom:

    Better closet space

    Hangers that won't wreck my clothes

    Organized clothes

    New dresser and organized night stands

    Fresh paint, new curtains, etc.

    The results will provide you with a clear idea of exactly what needs to be done in each room. You can keep the pad of paper in a file and schedule the time to tackle a portion of each room as a smaller job instead of looking at the whole room or the entire house as the project.

    Quickly find out how you can be more organized and more productive by completing an Assessment . Or visit the kAos Group web site for more information and tips.

  • Kitchens, Kids and Keepsakes

    Do you have a daily onslaught of artwork being dropped on your counter only to discover that you’re just not sure where to display the latest pieces from your junior Picasso?

    Start with a basket or cool container where the kids put their one-of-a-kinds as soon as they empty their backpack from school. They can choose which pieces they want hung in the “artwork display area” and the remainders of their one-of-a-kinds are kept in one container. The “artwork display area” might be your fridge, a door that you have corked, a cool string with clothes pins to hang the work, or an area where you have mounted a metal board (two sizes sold at IKEA) using Earth Magnets from Lee Valley a super-strength magnet that holds up to 12 pictures per magnet.

    The next step is to determine which pictures are going into the archives and which don’t make the cut. The archive items should be dated because, let’s face it, one month from now you will never remember when they drew it. You are now ready to place them into your labelled plastic storage container for safe keeping. This same container can be used for other kid keepsakes such as the first blanket, the first shoes, the first special outfit, etc.

    This container can be kept at the back of a closet, under the stairs, beneath all the winter coats, anywhere in the home where it will be easy to access yet out of the way - otherwise you will be less likely to follow through on the idea.

    There is another upside to this idea and that is just how much kids love knowing about who they are. My daughter truly enjoys going through her artwork and all of her keepsakes. She seems to marvel at how she used to draw. I can’t wait to hear what she has to say a few years from now! She has since suggested that we start a container for her little brother.

    Deanne Kelleher, is the founder of kAos Group and the originator of the Core Four™ system.
    kAos Group helps clients: organize, optimize, and profit - personally and professionally.
    Visit their web site at for more information.

    Copyright © 2009 Deanne Kelleher

  • Downsizing and Dementia - some enlightening truths

    June had made the decision to move back to the big city to be closer to her children. She was once a married mother of seven and the downsizing process had happened in previous stages in her life. First the divorce, then the children moving out, then changing cities, and then being a grown woman at university in Victoria, B.C.

    Months prior to her moving date we started planning exactly what needed to be done. I lived in a different province so we had weekly phone meetings to ensure that she was on track and everything appeared to be coming along as planned. That was how it appeared until I showed up to color code the boxes and assist with the final details of her big move. Green for boxes going into storage, blue for the items going to her new apartment, orange for apartment storage, and each piece of furniture was to be labelled for its proper destination. Everything labelled, lists created, inventory recorded, and packing her personal belongings for the trip.

    But as I walked through the door on that sunny west coast day I was greeted by chaos. Every square inch of the apartment floor was covered in papers – some papers were from decades ago and some were yesterday’s flyers, the photographs tallied in the thousands and the only boxes that were packed were the ones that she never unpacked when she moved in years earlier.

    This was the biggest downsizing job gone awry and I really wasn’t even sure why. Thank goodness she was my mother and I had siblings to call on. We didn’t know that the advanced stages of dementia caused someone to act this way. Actually, we didn’t know anything about dementia let alone the disease called Alzheimer’s that we were going to be introduced to. That was a day of utter heart-break as I reflect back, yet the movers were scheduled to pick up her life time of belongings and move her across the country … in less than 48 hours.

    When I began writing this article (years ago now) I solicited the insight of others who know downsizing very well, allow me to share some of their words of wisdom with you:

    I sat in the café across the table from Karen Shin, better known as the Downsizing Diva. Karen shares her view on the common reasons for downsizing: Financial, the house is too big, health, and the natural transition of life – to simplify. I nod in agreement.

    Karen acknowledges that a potentially painful moment for her clients is often the realization that no one values your ‘stuff’ like you do. Since the young kids are in the acquiring stage they may not be interested in the big ol’ stereo cabinet or Grandma’s dining room suite so be prepared to sell it, donate it, or pitch it. Remember though, there are university students who would love and cherish your furniture! You can reach out to your community to donate your furniture or belongings. If you need help contact an organizer in your neighborhood by visiting Professional Organizers in Canada. Churches are often at the heart of family shelters and accept or can coordinate donations. If you’re still unsure contact your local MPP to find out who picks up what locally.

    Karen and I end our wonderful conversation on a final note about the three things that she knows: 1) We all have too much ‘stuff’ 2) You can’t take it with you when you go and 3) We are all going.

    Real Estate agent Robin Millar recommends that families consider the options that exist between parents downsizing and younger family members upgrading. As well, she recommends to those who are still reviewing their downsizing options to speak with a financial consultant and explore the pro’s and con’s of renting versus buying. You are welcome to contact Robin by email or by calling 416.486.5588 to speak with an experienced agent in the field of downsizing, upgrading, and evaluating your options.

    If downsizing is your goal I hope this information has helped you. If you are located in Toronto there is a great store called The Moving Store they will do an on-site estimate of the supplies you will need to move and deliver everything when you need it. They also offer container rentals instead of buying cardboard boxes. If you aren’t in Toronto you can still order their nifty moving items on line.

    10 Helpful Tips About Moving

    1.Identify the activities you enjoy: are the amenities in walking distance, are you still driving - look for accommodations that cater to these things
    2.Take pictures to preserve your memories
    3.Work room by room
    4.List the items to a) go to family, b) sell, c) donate, d) recycle
    5.Use contractor garbage bags – they are durable and worth the few cents more
    6.Prep a working belt with the supplies you need: markers, packing tape, scissors or straight blade, masking tape and sandwich baggies for containing screws and small pieces
    7.Use a table to pack on – your back will thank you
    8.Create a master list
    9.On moving day pack your car with the necessities: Linens for your bed, medications, a mini tool kit and your master files (all the moving information - contact names, floor plans, etc)
    10.Pre arrange pet care for moving day

    A final note about how things turned out with June. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s within six months of us moving her to the city and has since moved into a full time care facility. It is likely that you or someone close to you will suffer from dementia and potentially Alzheimer’s. I recommend you visit the Alzheimer's web site for more information on the common signs of the disease. It is also very helpful when tackling a downsizing project that you consider speaking with a Professional Organizer. They are experienced, informative, and often the
    calming, organized strength that is needed to assist you in achieving a peaceful transition.

    Feel free to contact me by phone 416.347.9002 or email me directly at
    Visit the kAos Group web site to learn more about what we do.


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