Larry Costa REALTOR®
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Posted by Larry Costa REALTOR® on 3/29/2019

The car, entryway, stairs, hallways, bedrooms, closets and cupboards—wherever you look, there it is. Clutter! You dream of life minus the piles, boxes, and bags of stuff. Onto the internet, you go to find that magic formula, the perfect system to tame that clutter chaos. Once in place, you believe your life will be one smooth ride. Four hours later, you have tons of information and pictures of neat ideas, and you are; overwhelmed. Mentally throwing in the towel, you move on with your day and wish the clutter would sort and organize itself.

Reality Bites

Well, welcome to the real world with your glorious clutter. Don’t despair. You CAN tame the piles of papers, clothing, bags and other items. You will need to break it down into smaller bits and pieces. Everyone loves a dramatic overhaul that, through time-lapse camera work, happens almost instantly. In reality, changing the clutter habits that created the chaos takes time and strategy. Start in a couple of areas that irritate you the most. 

Start small

Pick one or two places clutter accumulates to start the decluttering adventure. For example, place a basket near the entryway to catch the keys as people enter. It will eliminate the jumble of keys in other places around the house and also the frantic looking for keys as you try to leave the house. Another idea is placing a small trash bin where people come in from outside so any trash they have, such as fast food wrappers, cups or junk mail, can go straight into the garbage. No system will succeed if you don’t have the cooperation of those who contribute to the clutter. Have a brief discussion with the other household members about the desire for a more organized and tidier environment. Enlist their help in finding ideas that can reduce clutter. When you involve them, they are more likely to find changing their habits easier.

Real life rhythms

Only keep systems and routines that work over the long run. Remember to keep it simple and low or no maintenance. The goal is to create order and increase enjoyment of your space. Consider the whole household and how you all function on a daily level. Each person has individual habits, and a household its own rhythm. Each system you implement must fit your household rhythm. So, think of the big picture when putting your anti-clutter routines together. As the new systems begin to become habit make sure to celebrate your efforts to tame the clutter chaos. Make sure to check out ideas for clutter reduction when you browse through your next open house.





Posted by Larry Costa REALTOR® on 8/25/2017

If you've ever read a self-improvement book or attended a motivational seminar, you probably felt charged up for about a week or so, but then slipped back into old, self-defeating habits.

Why does that happen? Is it because we're all born a certain way and have no control over the cards we're dealt? While it may sometimes appear that destiny plays a role in the direction of our lives, habits are often the underlying cause of both problems and accomplishments.

Zig Ziglar, a well-known sales trainer and personal development author summed it up perfectly: “People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing – that's why we recommend it daily.”

Here are a few ways that good habits can improve everything from family relationships and health to time management and stress reduction.
  1. Either before you go to bed or the first thing the next morning, write down your objectives for the day. When you commit something to writing and have a visual reminder of what you need to accomplish, there's a much stronger chance it will get done. Whether you prefer to use your iPhone or just old-fashioned written lists, everyone needs some kind of daily system for staying organized and remembering tasks and priorities. As Benjamin Franklin said more than 200 years ago, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
  2. Your attitudes and expectations often become self-fulfilling prophesies. It's easy to fall into the trap of complaining about things like how messy the house always looks or what a daily struggle it is to get the kids to do their homework. If you find yourself going down this negative path, keep in mind a quote from Oprah Winfrey: "What you focus on expands, and when you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it." The opposite is also true, so it pays to choose your thoughts and words carefully.
  3. Establishing good, consistent habits in children makes life easier, more productive, and less stressful for the entire family. That can include everything from doing homework and chores to personal hygiene and keeping their bedrooms looking civilized.
  4. Learning to be patient with yourself, your spouse, and your children is easier for some people than others, but when you think of yourself as a "work in progress," you'll have more of a tendency to keep trying and not get discouraged.
Many books, websites, and seminars are based on the premise of improving the conditions of your life by improving the quality of your habits and thoughts. A good starting point for many people is to do a self assessment, write down a list of achievable goals, and then come up with a realistic action plan.





Posted by Larry Costa REALTOR® on 1/13/2017

Is your garage overflowing with odds and ends leaving no room for its intended purpose - storing your car? Then you are in the same boat as many other homeowners. Garages can be such a tempting to place to hide stuff that doesn’t have a place, after all out of sight out of mind. If you are ready to clean up your garage to make things easier to find and maybe even finally fit your car inside of it again keep reading. Start by clearing out your garage. Go through everything and sort items into giveaway/sell, toss and keep piles. Get rid of anything that your children have outgrown, you haven’t used in years or household chemicals that have since expired (be sure to responsibly dispose of these). This step can be a weekend project in itself so don’t worry if you don’t have the organized garage you envisioned before Monday. When you have settled on what will be staying in your garage sort the remaining items into categories. Typical garage storage usually contains categories like seasonal items, tools, and sports equipment. When reorganizing you will want to make sure everything stays organized. You can do this by giving everything an assigned place and preferably a clearly labeled one. When possible assign items their places in a way where they will be off the floor. This prevents clutter from building up and forces you to give everything a home throughout the process and in the future. When you have emptied out your garage and organized your remaining items into categories you will have given yourself a clean slate to work with. Set yourself up for future success by investing in shelving units, large plastics bins, small glass jars and maybe even a label maker. Slat board, peg board, and track based organizational systems are other great ways to keep items off the floor, organize smaller items and hang up tools. Garages are also a great place to utilize ceiling space by installing overhead storage. Since you have already decided on categories and what is staying you should have a good idea of what kind of storage solution will work best for your garage. Once you’ve created a storage system in your garage with assigned places for each item you should have that coveted room to park your vehicles inside again! Take the time to choose where you will be parking your vehicle and hang a tennis ball from a string to signal when you are parked in the correct place. The ball should gently bump the windshield when you are in the right spot. When choosing your new parking spot allow for space to walk between the vehicle and the back wall as well as the side walls. If you have a two car garage ensure that there is plenty of room between the two cars so that when doors are opened it doesn’t risk bumping the other car. Depending on how cluttered your garage is organizing it may be longer than a weekend project. However, by investing the time into creating a smart storage system you will be able to use your garage not only easily but also stress-free. Happy cleaning!





Posted by Larry Costa REALTOR® on 6/17/2016

Humans have been thinking about the way they decorate their homes for thousands of years. In ancient India, Vastu shastra (literally, "the science of architecture") has been informing decorating techniques since as early as 6,000 BCE. The more commonly known influence for home decorating, feng shui, has its roots in ancient China where practitioners were inspired by astronomy. In the early 1900s, however, a modern science was founded that attempts to solve some of the problems that arise based on our environments. Environmental psychology is a field that focuses on the interplay between humans and the environments they live and work in. Scientists have studied the way humans (and other animals, like rats) are affected by their environment. Their findings help to inform us of how we can live more relaxed or focused based on how we decorate our home and workplace.

A place to call your own

As society becomes increasingly urbanized, many psychologists are studying the problems that arise from being in constant contact with one another, both physically and in the digital world. One thing that scientists have discovered is that it is important for humans to have a place of sanctuary during their day. Whether this is your cubicle at work, your home office, or your tool shed, everyone needs a place they can be alone. Ask yourself if your home setup provides you with a space that you can go to be alone.

How colors can affect mood

Have you ever been in a school or hospital that was painted an awful color that just made you uncomfortable? Many of us have trained ourselves to adapt and live with environments that aren't ideal for us. For example, the bright red walls of McDonald's or the blinding fluorescent lights in a department store probably aren't conditions we'd pick for our homes. Scientists have discovered that there is a correlation between colors, brightness, and our mood. Try to match the colors of your rooms with their functions. For example, you wouldn't want to paint your bedroom bright red, as your bedroom should be a place you can relax to fall asleep. Instead, go with a less-pronounced color for the bedroom.

The balance between cluttered and sterile

Much of the way we choose to decorate our homes is informed by our childhood. If you learn meticulous cleaning habits from your parents, you might carry on with this into adulthood. As a child, you probably went to a friend's house and marveled at how differently they did things. Part of that lesson is learning that the way someone chooses to decorate and clean their home is part of their personality. But like most things in life, it's important to find a balance. If you find yourself restless or distracted you should ask yourself if the room is too cluttered or messy. Maybe it's the opposite; you could just as easily become distracted or uncomfortable by an environment that is too sterile looking.

Listen to yourself

The most important thing to remember when decorating your home is to follow your intuitions. Decide if you decorated a room a certain way because that's what everyone else does or if it actually makes you feel more at home.





Posted by Larry Costa REALTOR® on 7/31/2015

Ever feel like things pile up in your home? Maybe on the kitchen table or counter, your dresser, or nightstand? Well a little organization can turn your home from full of clutter to nice and neat without having to throw everything away. Here are a few things to keep in mind when improving the organization of your home.

  1. Everything needs a place - if every item in your home has a place to be stored, you are less likely to just drop it anywhere. If an item shouldn't be sitting on your counter top, then it should have a home.
  2. Maximize your storage space - If you feel like you are lacking storage space, think again. A closet with no shelves can't store as much, and those spaces you aren't using, like under your bed, can be transformed into storage places too. Setting up the places that you have to store items so they can be fully used is key to making sure everything can be stored.
  3. Label - If you can find where something goes, you are more likely to put it there. Having boxes stacked into a closet, and not knowing what's in there, doesn't help you organize. But having storage containers, shelves, drawers, etc that are labeled for easy finding does.
  4. Shelves and containers - Having the right assortment of storage is key. Not everything is stored well on a shelf and the same goes for in a container. Make sure you have a variety of what you need; everything from small to large containers, baskets, drawers, shelves and hooks. You want to make sure that where you are putting something can be easily found and accessed.
  5. Get into the routine - Old habits die hard so when you first organize you might find you still leave things hanging around. Getting into the new habit of putting things away can take time but an easy way to start is to set aside 10-15 minutes at the end of each day to put everything where it belongs. Before you know it, you will be doing it throughout the day!
Regardless of whether you go all out on organization, or just do a little, you will find that with a couple of changes you can enjoy your space much more. And without all the clutter that has been left behind!