Tell Me More

I thought it would be fun to share with you some of the things we tell our clients ALL…THE…TIME…Some are useful tips, some are good rules to live by, and others are just fun(ny). Enjoy.

  1. If you are unsure if you need to keep that one item, the rule of thumb is, if you can replace it in 20 minutes or less and it costs $20 or less, donate it.

  2. Use the velvet hangers in your closets. They take good care of your clothes, nothing slips off and the uniformity makes your closet look great. Oh, and you can keep more clothes, because they take up less space. ;)

  3. The average US household has over 300,000 items!

  4. If your grown children have not already expressed an interest in having an item, chances are they don’t want it. Do them a favor and donate it so later, they don’t have to.

  5. Clutter is simply a series of unmade decisions.

  6. How many (insert favorite piece of clothing) will you actually wear in one week, assuming you do laundry once a week?

  7. Label EVERYTHING.

  8. If something takes two minutes or less to do, do it now.

  9. Open your mail standing by the trash can or recycle bin.

  10. If you keep everything, nothing is important.

  11. Coffee mugs. Enough said.

  12. Routines, routines, routines. Make them and live by them.

  13. Keep your end vision in mind at all times throughout the decluttering and organizing process.

  14. Just get started. Set the timer to work on an uncomfortable task. You can do anything for 15 minutes. You will see progress which will motivate you to keep going-now or later.

  15. When was the last time you used/wore (fill in the blank with an item you are struggling to let go of)? I had a client who exclaimed, “I haven’t see that since Jesus was a baby,” when we uncovered a corded phone in the bottom of a box in her office. If it’s been that long, then it’s a definite “GO.”

  16. Just look at one small area at a time. The whole office or the whole desk can be overwhelming. But one drawer? You can attack that with confidence.

I hope some of these nuggets of wisdom have given you something to think about and maybe even motivated you to go look at that cupboard with all the mugs! Happy Organizing!

Spring Cleaning, Organizing or Both?

What comes to mind when you think of spring cleaning?  For me, it brings images of throwing open the windows, taking down and washing the curtains and hanging comforters on the clothesline outside to air out or dry.  Oh, and cleaning windows inside and out.  I’m not sure why that’s what I think of.  Honestly, here in Charlotte, throwing open the windows in April would only foil my efforts by creating a yellow pollen film over everything we own; we have blinds, not curtains; I’ve never owned a home with a clothesline; and finally, washing windows? Uhhhh, no.  But the lovely dream of everything looking and smelling really fresh after a long rainy (or snowy) winter is what I want.

More realistically, Spring Cleaning probably means doing things inside and outside your home that rarely get attention, like cleaning out that cupboard above the fridge or tossing that grass seed that’s been in the garage for way too long.  When you start thinking about all the little things throughout the house, it can feel like so much pressure to address all the areas that need attention, plus you need to stay on top of the regular responsibilities.  Somehow, spring reveals things that go unnoticed the rest of the year. 

I’m going to set you free from the pressure to Spring Clean with this news alert.  SPRING IS NOT THE ONLY TIME YOU CAN DO THIS.  You can spread it out over the entire year! Deep cleaning and organizing go hand in hand.  If you are doing one, you might as well take the time to do the other.  If you have the cleaning bug and want to clean and organize this Spring, start small.  What area of your home do you spend a lot of time in?  What area needs obvious attention?  What drives you up a wall when you see it?  Start there.  Then work through the steps below as quickly or slowly as you want.  Just be intentional and make forward progress.  If it takes all year to do your Spring Cleaning, it’s ok.

 

1.      Choose an area that needs attention

2.      Purge

3.      Sort

4.      Place

5.      Label

 

Choose an Area

Don’t tackle the whole kitchen at once.  Too overwhelming and distracting.  Focus on the pantry…or the freezer…or the cupboard with 99 mugs.  When that is complete, move on to the next small area.

Declutter and Sort

Organizing always starts with evaluating what needs to go.  Instead of throwing open the windows, throw out what doesn’t serve your life any more.

Have a bag or box for donations and one for trash.  Create an area to place items that belong in another room.  Wait until you finish to put them away-otherwise you will get sidetracked.  Give yourself a time limit.  When you start getting distracted, STOP, because you will no longer make quality decisions. Two or three hours is probably max.  But fifteen or twenty minutes is fine, too. It’s still progress. Do your traditional Spring Cleaning as you go and wipe out the drawers, move the empty dresser to vacuum under it, mop the floor of the pantry…

Take all the time you need to declutter the area you are working on.  This is probably the most critical part of the process to achieve the goals you envision.  Be aggressive.  With each item, ask these questions.  Do I need it?  Do I use it?  Is it in good repair?  Does it fit?  Do I like it?  And of course, there is the always popular, “Does it spark joy?” 

Decluttering and Sorting go hand in hand.  With each item, decide if it is trash, donate or keep.  Place the donate or trash items in the appropriate bag/box. If it is keep, sort like things, ie put all handbags in one area, all scarves in another, etc.  By sorting like things, you can really see how many white t-shirts you actually have.  Fair warning:  once you sort, you might want to do a second round of decluttering.

When you are finished for the day (even if you aren’t finished with the area), put away items you found that belong in another room, take the trash out and load the donations into your car.  You will feel very accomplished. It’s ok if it takes more than one day to sort through the items in an area.  Simply continue until you have finished, without pressure. 

Place

Now decide how you want to use your space.  It may be differently than you’ve used it before.  That’s ok.  Place the items you use most often front and center.  The things that are used rarely in the back or up high.  You probably have some baskets or bins already.  Or treat yourself to some new organizing tools.  Use them to contain like items.  When you open your pantry, a lovely basket with all the pasta and rice in it looks so much more appealing than all the boxes.

Organizing options are everywhere right now.  Go ahead and search Pinterest boards for inspiration.  Pay attention to what appeals to you while keeping in mind your life and how easy a particular system or style will be to maintain.  You might be perfectly willing to take the extra few minutes to file fold your own clothes (I highly recommend this, by the way), but your teenage son who just started doing laundry probably won’t.  In his room, consider investing in extra hangers for his closet so he can hang everything.   

Label

Now that you have your area put back together, label everything that can be labeled.  Use whatever method you’d like-chalk labels, label maker labels, Avery labels.  If you want to go all out, order some custom vinyl labels from an Etsy store.  They will make you smile every time you are in that space. Public Service Announcement: I provide beautiful vinyl labels for my clients at no extra charge. ;)

Labeling is your secret accountability partner.  When you are putting groceries away, you will take an extra couple of minutes to put things where they belong instead of just getting them in there wherever you find space.  It will also help your family know where things should go.  No promises, but the possibility that labels will help is good.

So, if you are thinking about Spring Cleaning, I challenge you to reshape the definition in your mind and make it work for you.  Don’t consider the overwhelming list of tasks, but instead, start small and make progress.  If you need it, take the rest of the year to check everything off your list. 

Where will you start your Spring Cleaning this year?

WHAT'S YOUR STORY?

Welcome to my blog, What’s Your Story?   I am so looking forward to sharing some organizing tips and skills I’ve learned along the way, but more importantly, I want to connect with you and encourage you wherever you are in your organization journey and your life journey.

You may be asking what your story has to do with organizing.  As a Professional Organizer, I have the privilege of working with so many people in many different chapters of their stories. Some of us are naturally organized, some are naturally disorganized.  Many are simply overwhelmed with life and need some reinforcement to get back on track.  For some, the problem has been festering for years if they are not naturally organized. Others get thrown into a crisis with an unexpected event-move, illness, new job, etc.  Most all of my clients find themselves in some form of life transition.  I love working side by side with them all, hearing their stories unfold and watching transformation take place as they reclaim control over their “stuff” and their time.   

Wherever you are in your life journey, know that organization or disorganization does not define you.  It is simply a state of your external, and sometimes internal, environment that either supports you in this season of your life or makes it harder.  If your surroundings are orderly, and your weeks are filled with routines, your life is more fulfilling and enjoyable.  You have more time and energy to enjoy the ride.  During difficult times, you feel more in control when your environment is peaceful, and you are able to give your attention to the important things without the distraction of chaos.  No matter where we fall on the organized spectrum, most of us are looking to be more organized and peaceful in our lives.  The good news is that it is indeed possible to make progress with some effort.

If you are feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of getting it all together, clearing the clutter,  or creating a peaceful environment and routines, I want to encourage you.  Have you heard advice on how to eat an elephant?  You do so one bite at a time.  Same with organizing.  Wherever your biggest point of frustration or pain is, start there.  Just do one thing.  Discard expired food from your pantry, go through that stack of mail, or purge your coat closet and take donations to charity.  Don’t look at the whole; just look at that one task.  Set a timer for 15 minutes to tackle the project if that’s helpful, and stop when the timer goes off.  Just do a little at a time or even a little each day.  You will make progress.

Disorganization is sometimes defined as a series of unmade or postponed decisions.  Make just one decision today to become more organized.  You’ll feel accomplished, and the momentum will take over.

In future posts, I will share some more practical tips.  Today, my intent is to motivate you to own where you are in your story.  Although the people behind them do, Pinterest Boards and Instagram accounts don’t have stories.  All those beautifully organized snapshots are what we tend to compare ourselves to.  Do not fall into the comparison game.  Whatever your goals, whatever your life season, own it and be encouraged that progress is possible. 

 

I’d love it if you would take a minute and share where you are in your story, your organizational goal/frustration and the one step you will commit to taking today.