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t’s that busy time of year when everyone wants to

get out and enjoy the warm weather, so indoor household chores and tasks often take a back seat. While we’re gardening, camping, picnicking, going to concerts, and swimming, our homes have a way of filling up with extra clutter. It’s a grab and go time of the year but with a little extra planning and the following tips, you can stay better organized and have more stress-free fun time in the sun. • Devote a tote bag to swimming gear with all the basics in one place. Be sure to include swimwear, towels, sunscreen, natural bug spray, goggles, ear plugs, floaties or water wings for the little ones, as well as an empty plastic bag (or other waterproof options) for transporting wet suits home to be washed.

• Pass up freebie swag that’s given out at many fundraisers, community events, and 5K runs, unless it’s an awesome T-shirt or a well-designed refillable water bottle – something you know you’ll really use. I find a lot of not so very well-made tote bags in clients’ homes that we wind up using to drop off donations. Swag tends to add up quickly, so if you notice you have more freebie clutter than you know what to do with, kindly refuse to even bring it home! • Originally souvenirs were simply relics from a destination, but to preserve sacred and historic sites officials started distributing mass-produced trinkets to visitors. Soon, souvenir fever was ignited. This year when you go on vacation be kind to yourself, friends, family, and the environment by passing up that goofy pen, oversized pencil, refrigerator magnet, bumper sticker, mug, shot glass, miniature snow globe, or shrunken Statue of Liberty. While comical and fun at first, eventually it’s just one more knickknack to dust or postcard that you’ll never send. With smartphones and all the photos we take these days you won’t forget your trip to the beach, so leave the seashells at the seashore! • A rainy summer day is a good opportunity to work on the buildup of clutter and possessions inside your home. You have probably heard about keeping items based on whether they “spark joy” but I like to encourage people to ask themselves if an item sparks apathy. Don’t try too hard to apply this logic, instead ask yourself if a possession is something you use, need, or love. Utilitarian items might not spark any emotion but if you use that badminton set, need a first aid kit, or love your collection of wood carving tools, the answer to keep or discard will come easily to you. • Remember how handy a good list can be to assure us that we packed everything we need, or to remind us how to efficiently get ready for an event. Not only do I have a basic packing list for travel, I have created lists for barbecuing (the culinary term mise 18

Celebrate Summer 2019 |

en place is French for having everything in place) and for local day trips like when we go to outdoor concerts. When there is a check list, it’s easier for you to delegate tasks to others and with the whole team on board, getting ready to go is less stressful! • It’s time to start the grill and slice up that watermelon! But the bounty of the season can create challenges for kitchens that don’t have much space. Counter clutter can impede food preparation causing frustration. Countertops are prime real estate so don’t let squatters like mail, medications and supplements, rarely used appliances, or excessive condiments crowd the cutting board zone. Lots of produce means lots of washing, knife work, and preparation. Think of any food show from Julia Child in the late 1960s to modern day cooks, and you don’t see radios, knickknacks, or piles of cookbooks taking up precious prep space. Where should the mail really live? Can you just keep your top three favorite cookbooks in the kitchen and the rest on the bookshelves in the dining room? • Sporting goods should be accessible and for some that means doing a seasonal swap. This summer the skis, snowshoes, and ice skates could live elsewhere to make room for soccer cleats, biking gear, and everything tennis. Do be mindful of how you store skis though: living in a hot attic in the off season might mean warping. Categorize like with like so it’s easier to pack everything you need for a hike up Monument Mountain or a trip to one of the many town beaches or state parks in the lovely Berkshires. One of the best ways to keep your home neat and tidy any time of year is to adopt two mantras: put it right away or else it will stay and don’t go anywhere emptyhanded. There’s always something that belongs in another room of the home or elsewhere altogether, and taking a few extra moments to put things away properly will help keep your home streamlined and ready for summer living! ~Julie Ulmer has built an extensive business as a professional organizer, speaker, and consultant, having founded Minding Your Manor in 2005. She specializes in chronic disorganization and hoarding disorder. Minding Your Manor services the Capital District as well as Columbia, Rensselaer, and the northern Dutchess counties of New York and the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. Julie is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, the Institute for Challenging Disorganization, and the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce.

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Our BerkshireTimes Magazine, Celebrate Summer 2019  

Our BerkshireTimes Magazine is your resource for local events, community news, and vibrant living in the Berkshire region of Massachusetts....

Our BerkshireTimes Magazine, Celebrate Summer 2019  

Our BerkshireTimes Magazine is your resource for local events, community news, and vibrant living in the Berkshire region of Massachusetts....

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