Why do we buy presents? 

We received our Riverford box this week and the message from Guy was about waste veg.  Having been responsible for the waste contract of a large restaurant and pub chain I’m always interested in what’s next and how we can reduce waste as it’s scary what volume is thrown away on a regular basis.

This then got me thinking about gifts (tenuous link I know) and how gifts can be wasted.  Why do we buy gifts?

It’s Easter which means chocolate.  I know Easter doesn’t mean just chocolate but unfortunately that’s the first thing that the commercialised world thinks about.  Back in the day I was given a CD from someone instead of chocolate and now my tiny human is given cash.  Don’t get me wrong, this is lovely but how has it got to this, why do we feel the need to buy presents.

Birthdays and Christmas are difficult.  How often do you get too close to the date and panic about what to buy people.  There are some people who you will find easy to buy for – everyone thinks they are easy to buy for but they are wrong, some of the time anyway!

When you have that panic, what do you buy?  How much thought goes into it? Maybe you resort to a voucher?  To me a voucher is a bit last minute and to some of my friends, thoughtless but just think you can literally buy anything with an Amazon voucher and when I say anything, something you actually want.

This is the problem with gifts, some of them become clutter straight away in your home.  I’m not ungrateful but, think back to what gifts you have received which you don’t like or have never used.  I come across this so often when working with someone, they want to keep something just because they were given it – they don’t even like it but feel guilty about throwing it away.

My suggestion to this is to try and sell said item and use the money to buy something you love then, there’s less guilt as technically they have bought you something you would use and enjoy and you have less clutter in your home.

My advice to the gift buyer, if you’re not sure what to buy someone should you be buying them a present?  Controversial question?  Not really.  When I spend time with my friends and talk to them – face to face or facetime to facetime I get an understanding of where they are, what they’re up to and what they need.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not the perfect gift buyer (I’m envious of those people) but I like to buy people what I think would be useful to them.  If you’re buying for the sake of buying then would a card or other gesture be fine instead?  What would you like to receive?

Alternatively, buy someone an experience.  We’ve started this in our family and we are off gliding in the Summer – when would you have ever done that?!

It’s not to late to get Christmas organised!

It’s only 1st December and for some it feels like everyone else is far more organised for the 25th this year!

Don’t despair, there is still time (23 days to be exact!) and to help I have created a different kind of advent calendar free for you to download, print and put somewhere you can cross off as each job is complete!

Use the link below to download to your computer to help with your decorations, gifts, food and reminders of what to do to have a fantastic Christmas this year!

Organise Christmas Calendar

Please sign up below for more information :

Sign up for more organised tips and information

* indicates required
Email Address *

First Name
Last Name

National Organise Week 7th – 13th November – Day 5 / Tip 5

Thanks all for watching my clips, I’d love to hear how you have all been getting organised this week.  Send feedback, pictures and information on what you have done or, if you are already organised do you have tips to share?

Today is all about finding everything a home, to easily find things and be happy with what you have in your home, everything should have a place – from the cans in the cupboard to your favourite pair of shoes!

Have a watch and let me know what you think.  Today starring my 1 year old….

[wpvideo bVrQVvoj]

Feel like you can relate and need help getting more organised at home or work?  Please get in touch via e-mail or phone and let me know how I can help give you more spare time!

NOWOrganise Week 7th – 13th November Day 4 / Tip 4

Thanks to all for watching my videos this week.  Please let me know how organised you are, whether you’ve tried any of the tips I’ve sent and send before and after pictures.  I love to see how others are organised as it means different things to different people.

Today is all about asking for help and using your strengths to make the most of your time.

[wpvideo Jr1SNh4p]


If you can relate and need help organising, get in touch via E-mail or phone to discuss how we can work together to organise your home or work.

NOWOrganise Week 7-11th November 2016 – Day 1

As promised, here is my first tip of the week to help you with some Monday motivation for National Organised Week.  Look out for a new one each day to help you become more organised at home or work.

Watch the video and then take action, when you are sat rewarding yourself for becoming more organised let me know how you go on, be great to hear your feedback!

[wpvideo NuCOvQ47]


Feel like you can relate to this and need some organisation help, get in touch via phone – 07772 773992 or e-mail – sarah@starfishorganisers.com If I am unable to help, I can find someone who can.

We provide an initial free consultation via phone or Skype or, visit for an hour for £25 + mileage which is redeemable against your first booking.

Never able to find that piece of paper you need?

Organising your office or, household admin is never the most interesting task to do but is necessary to avoid losing time or even money.

  • How much time do you spend looking for a key piece of paper, envelope, bill?
  • How often have you missed the deadline for a payment or replying to an invitation?
  • Have you ever overpaid for something purely because you’ve forgotten the renewal date?

If any of the above sounds familiar then you need to start to organise your paperwork-life, it doesn’t take long (even if you have a house rather than a desk-full) as you do not need to hold on to as much as you think you might.

I purchased a new file from Paperchase which holds all the important documents and is not a huge file so doesn’t take up a lot of room and you can add additional tabs if required. The standard labels are for the most obvious things but, everyone is different and has varying needs.

It is tempting to keep every piece of paper which looks vaguely important or has account details on or you feel you may need it ‘just in case’ but you definitely don’t.  There are certain dates you need certain copies of paperwork for (personally, look here for HMRC) and in business it is 5 years after the tax year – most companies recommend 7 years to be sure.

Most things can now be kept digitally with online accounts – electricity, gas, however, it would be wise to always keep backups so I would recommend always keeping your most current copies of any bills in case of errors – need I comment here about checking each of them through thoroughly, mistakes are made! So, why not make a start today…..

  1. Find a space, a big space! Dining room table, kitchen worktop, living room floor
  2. Have a diary or calendar to hand, the one you use the most phone or old-school paper
  3. Get everything out! All the paperwork, unopened post, files you may already have
  4. Start some piles, work, personal, house, sentimental and have a bin at the end
  5. Go through methodically, throwing away any rubbish – empty envelopes etc – yes it sounds obvious but there is no need to keep rubbish
  6. Divide into your chosen piles, only keeping the most recent 2 personal bills after checking them and last year of household bills
  7. Make a note of dates for insurance renewals, contract dates with a reminder 2 weeks before to review and obtain quotes
  8. Once the big pile to sort has been sorted, start labelling and putting away into suitable folders
  9. Find a place to store the folders, where you can update and access as required, everyone is different – kitchen cupboards, office, under seat storage….you choose!

Now you have everything in place, keep on top of the pieces of paper.  As post arrives, open it, deal with it and remember to check your reminders to keep on top of your paperwork.  Then, you will always know where that piece of paper you were looking for is.

Feel like you can relate to this and need some organisation help, get in touch via phone – 07772 773992 or e-mail – sarah@starfishorganisers.com If I am unable to help, I can find someone who can.

We provide an initial free consultation via phone or Skype or, visit for an hour for £25 + mileage which is redeemable against your first booking.

My ideal home is on Pinterest, if only I could create it in real life – and not a Pinterest fail!

The P for procrastination, Pinterest.  Not heard of it? It’s the app to look at whilst you make yourself a cup of tea for 10 minutes, then the next thing you realise, your tea has gone cold and at least an hour has gone by…….. but, you’ve found your ideal home, every room in your home, planned every birthday, Christmas and halloween (even though you’ve never celebrated halloween in your life!)

Now, for home stuff when searching (if your home is anything like mine) you need to add “small” in the description as being mainly American you need a ranch or house in one of those cheesy family films to have rooms the size of the whole of my downstairs!  I started with a “house” board and now I have one for every room the only problem is actually getting stuff done.  It was different when having a tiny human as we had 9 months, a deadline and a plan for the room which gives you a bit more motivation to get the room how you would like it.

In normal circumstances you have the ideas and pass the room or job every day and just think you should really get that done, without a timeline, push, help, things don’t always get done, plans are not followed through and tasks are not completed.  This is where a personal organiser can help.  If you were building a house or a large extension you would have a planner or project manager to ensure tasks are completed and the job finished to your satisfaction, an organiser does this but on a small scale to work with you to ensure your home is finished to the standard you would expect – and make it your home!

We can declutter, tidy, put your possessions in order and find homes for things so you can find them again but we can also organise tradespeople to finish tasks, put up pictures and finish those small annoying jobs which you walk past everyday.  It may even be that you no longer notice them and have forgotten that the door handle will fall off it you pull it too much or until a visitor comes you realise you have to explain how to turn flush the loo properly.

Make a cuppa and grab a pen and pad, walk around from room to room and make notes in each of what tasks need finishing or doing full stop, what annoys you when you are sat in the bath or when you’re making the spare room up for guests write it down.  Alternatively, if it’s something that will take 5 minutes, do it straight away.  Once you’ve got your list, give a personal organiser a call to talk through.  We can give you an idea of costs and timelines to make your house your home and your sanctuary.

Feel like you can relate to this and need some organisation, get in touch via phone – 07772 773992 or e-mail – sarah@starfishorganisers.com If I am unable to help, I can find someone who can.

We provide an initial free consultation via phone or Skype or, visit for an hour for £25 + mileage which is redeemable against your first booking. 

What is a virtual assistant? A PA is for large company Directors and Celebs right?

Surprisingly not many people have heard of virtual assistants.  It’s the people who have never heard about us are normally the ones we can help the most.

When you describe a virtual assistant you normally use the term personal assistant which then gives the impression that it is an expensive resource.  People normally associate Personal Assistants with company Directors and celebrities but this is not the case anymore.

There are lots of virtual assistants out there and we are all different.  There are ones, like myself who are on their own and started as self-employed.  There are franchises and larger companies which have freelance or contracted VAs working for them.  Also, there are companies who employ their VAs and could be based here in the UK or, overseas to bring the cost down.  All have their pros and cons which, if you are looking to hire a VA you need to have a think about who would work best for you.

VAs, like people and companies also have their own strengths and specialities.  Different people specialise in different clients areas (mine are tradesmen and women) and also specialise in what they can do for you.  My key areas are bookkeeping, CIS (Construction Industry Scheme), self-assessments, social media and general administration.  There are other services I can provide however, they are not my key strengths so I would rather pass on clients to others which are better at those services to ensure the client gets the best service.  It’s important to spend time looking for a VA who will provide you with the best possible service to ensure you get the most value.

Instead of using the term VA I’ve gone with Organiser as my main aim is to help organise a business to ensure it runs efficiently as possible.  I work on the tasks within the business that the owner either does not enjoy or cannot do themselves.  Most people set up their business as they have a strength in a core trade / work and not to spend days doing admin.  This is where I come in.  As the admin is my strength and my trade I will be able to be more efficient in completing the tasks so clients can some more time on their trade and what they enjoy – their strengths.

I also work with people at home whether it be household admin or things hence the term ‘Organiser’ which some Personal Organisers do (see my previous post about Personal Organisers here) which again is the same principal.  It is all about helping people and doing the tasks on their to do list which they avoid or do not enjoy doing.  By giving these tasks to an Organiser you get the contented feeling of things getting done but save so much time which in turn gives you more time to do the things you enjoy whether it be a hobby or spending time with friends and family.

By hiring a virtual assistant or personal organiser it should make your life easier and take any worries away.

Feel like you can relate to this and need some organisation, get in touch via phone – 07772 773992 or e-mail – sarah@starfishorganisers.com  If I am unable to help, I can find someone who can.


Stop buying stuff, do you really need it?

We all like to spend money and buy stuff whether it is because it makes us happy or we need it, I mean, really need it or is a distraction from something else.  However, if we only spent money on things we actually needed and had a purpose how much would be saved every year.

Every house could do with decluttering in some way.  Whether it is stuff, paperwork or even food, there will be a drawer, cupboard or room even that will need organising – even Monica in Friends had a cupboard full of stuff!

I have to admit I’m not a great shopper and cannot wander rounds shops all day.  I go in, buy what I need and leave.  That’s not to say that my house doesn’t need decluttering sometimes.

When looking around the house or even the room you are sat in now, have a think about what you may have which you either don’t like, use or have any sentimental feelings about.  There may be other reasons why those items are in the room but, if not, how do you feel about them?  Do they bother you? If so, they could be zapping your energy.  If not, then no worries – carry on!

Where you do have energy zappers they need to be addressed to make you feel better about life.  Mainly because life will be so much simpler without them.  Sounds crazy?  Imagine that feeling when you’ve sorted the washing pile or dishes and cleaned up, it’s the same feeling when you’ve cleared items that bring nothing to each day.

The simplest way is to not buy stuff but where is the fun in that? Another way is to sort through what you have already (possibly finding things you forgot you had along the way – I met someone who forgot they had a 20ft yacht, true story!) go through everything in the house, breaking the house down room by room and getting rid of things which do not meet one of the 3 criteria mentioned above.  If you are unsure about anything then box it up to put in the loft to think about it again in 6 months time.

When getting rid of things, have a think about where stuff can go.  Can you sell them? Should they go to charity or are there things that just need to go in the bin.  Obviously anything that can be sold is a bonus as it is money you don’t have!

Once you’ve gone through everything which could be from kitchen utensils to clothes then work out where the gaps are, what you need, what are you missing?  Or, if you have managed to sell something, use the money to treat yourself!  Don’t go out and buy mindless stuff as this will lead to cluttering again.

I’ve found that thinking about purchases and deciding how much they are actually needed has saved us money.  We have either not purchased something as actually we didn’t need it in the first place or, found a substitute in something we already owned.  So many purchases are not thought about or, bought on a whim – yes, we own a drone.  No idea why and it’s been used twice in a year so is now cluttering up the spare room and bothers me every time I go in there.

Have a think, look around and I promise, if you got rid of things that are not useful, sentimental or not liked you will feel so much better about your home.

Don’t run out of coffee on a Monday morning

There’s a lot of stigma around the food shop still which always surprises me as the weekly food shop at Tesco on a Saturday morning is a thing of the past in our house.  There is so much variety now in terms of shops, food, opening times, ways to shop – you don’t even have to step foot in a shop anymore!

It’s changed but many peoples habits haven’t.  I grew up with a weekly shop at the local Co-op. (who have interestingly changed their marketing strategy to not be a full shop but I digress) Then, every 4 weeks there were the bigger items, washing powder, toilet roll, tea bags and coffee.  This is fine as we had storage space but some people don’t, nor do they drive to be able to bring a massive shop home.

You don’t want the above to happen though, running out of coffee – or tea if you are a tea drinker, that’s the worst!  When I visited a house and they had run out of coffee it made me think about this post. Also, when you’ve put the kids to bed, the other half is out and you have the sofa and TV to yourself, bliss, until you fancy some chocolate / ice cream / family bag of crisps, but there’s none in the house and the baby monitor doesn’t reach as far as the shops! Bad times.

This is where organising your shop comes in.  I’m not talking the weekly shop, same food, same list so you find yourself having spaghetti bolognaise again for the 4th time in 2 weeks because it’s just easy and that’s what you buy I’m talking being slightly more organised and creative than that.  Plus the more organised you are the more money you save! Win-win!

So, how do you do it?  It depends how organised you want to be and how far you want to go so tailor and adapt the below to what works for you.

  • What are your shopping priorities?  Being quick / cheap / on a diet / no time at all or, being fresh / local / having lots of storage space?  This gives you where and how you should shop – examples as below :
No time to shop? Order online, yes, the first time takes a while but after that favourites remembered – bonus!
Quick or no storage? Local shop like the Co-op, Tesco express or shop on your way home from work as and when you need bits
On a diet / meal planning or prep? One place, online or visit but with a full list and weekly meal plan done first
Save money / cheapest Aldi, Lidl, market and then local shop for the bits they don’t stock
  • Then, organise your cupboards.  Everyone has that tin / box of custard in the back dated 2010, if you know where everything is and use it regularly you will not waste food or space in the back.
  • When you put your food shop away, think of where the products need to be, don’t hide anything new as you’ll soon forget it is there, back to the above.
  • Keep a list going, we have a chalk board as we get near the end of things – or, add to your online account even better!!
  • Keep a meal plan, it doesn’t need to be anything fancy or for a specific diet but it means you can work out how much you need to avoid wasted food and money.
  • Overcook and freeze portions for those nights you just can’t be bothered – just remember to label them as no matter what you think you will forget what it is and freezer roulette is not as exciting as it sounds.
  • Buy in bulk if you have storage and what is on offer if you will use it – any offers on things which go out of date before you use them is a rubbish offer!

So the main thing is plan and be organised, Yes I would say that and yes you do have the time – remember that “lost” hour on Facebook?? I can help get you started from an hour just that one time to monthly or even weekly, if you don’t do any of the above you may find you even save more than you expect with my time!