Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What Does It Really Mean to Be Organized?

Many times when I start working with a client they ask me if my house is really organized.  I also say that if they mean my house looks like Martha Stewart’s, then no.  If they mean can I find everything, then the answer is yes.  To be organized really means to find what you need, when you need it in just a few minutes.  So many people have the misguided notion that being organized means your home constantly looks as if it will be featured in a magazine or it is for sale all the time.  Realistically, that is no way to live.  I believe that we were meant to live in our houses but being organized and living is possible.  To be organized really means that you have a place for the items you need and use on a regular basis and you have eliminated the items you no longer need or use.  Being organized also means you eliminate or purge items that no longer bring you happiness on a regular basis.  Why live with 3 lawnmowers when only one works? 

Being organized also really means you have made the decision not to keep those items that you feel obligated to keep or that were given as a gift so many years ago that you no longer use.

Being organized also means that when you open a cupboard, a closet, or a drawer, items do not fall out or on you and it does not get stuck when opening it up.  Being organized also means that paper has not taken over your life.  You are not buried in piles of papers and find newspapers and magazines from 5 years ago.   It means that as the mail comes in, the junk stays out.

Being organized does not mean that everything with sentimental value is tossed out.  We all should keep a reasonable amount of memories, but when you keep everything and some you cannot even be sure the story is right, than it is time to evaluate what you are keeping.  Give yourself and your family members a plastic bin and that is all the room they have for their memories.  When given a specific space, it is easier to really choose the important items. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Does Your Clutter Define You?

What a question!  As I enter neighborhoods and people have their garage doors open I see all sorts of different garages.    In some I see building materials and tools leading me to believe the owner might be a builder.  I see garages jammed with all sorts of items like bikes, garbage cans, and gardening tools telling me that they have a large family and not enough room.  And then I see garages with very little in them telling me that maybe they just bought the house or are minimalists. I will never know the truth about their garage unless they are a client or I ask them.  I am probably not going to go around asking anyone about their garage, but I have formed a guess. 

 The inside of houses I visit yields the same result with every house being different.  I have clients with paper in piles all over their homes and they struggle to get through it all.  I have clients with so many clothes they cannot get it in their closets and drawers.  I have clients with toys everywhere and no room for furniture.  I have clients with crafts in 2 or 3 rooms and they cannot find anything and usually have multiples of many items and there are the clients with just one room they have difficulty finding a place for everything.  Many have multiple unfinished projects in all areas of their home. 

So, does the clutter define them?  The common denominator in all these is that clutter is a delayed decision.  They cannot decide where to put it, what to do next, or what to purge, so the clutter evolves.  I believe their clutter defines them as someone who is having difficulty making some decisions.  As a member of the Institute of Chronic Disorganization, I have learned that some struggle more than others and the some individuals have been chronically disorganized their entire lives.

The answer to the question is sometimes your clutter does define you.  It might be situational and your clutter goes away when your life returns to normal and in some cases your clutter and lack of making decisions does define your work and home environment. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Organizing 101

So you were not given the organizing skills like me when you were born, but you were probably given other talents such as creativity or music that I was not given.  The good news is that you can easily learn some organizing skills and use them to help get your space organized.

One skill is to know that your space does not need to look as if it is in a magazine.  Unless you are selling your home, your space should fit your current life and be livable.  Perfection can be harmful when starting to organize.  Some of my clients are perfectionists and that is why they are unorganized.  They start one space and then move to another and never finished the first section and when they come to try to perfect all areas, they become overwhelmed and quit.  Every space is different for every person, so don’t try to keep up with the Joneses.

Another organizing skill is to take each space in sections.  Break it down into manageable pieces.  Most of my clients look at all their spaces as one and immediately become overwhelmed. 

I also recommend really knowing the difference between want and need.  As you look through the space you are organizing, ask yourself if the item is something you really need or just wanted when you purchased it. 

Skill number 3 would be to use the acronym SPACE when starting your organizing project.  S would be to sort like things together to really get an idea of how many you really have.  P would be to purge the items you no longer want, need or use.  Many charities are glad to take your purged items and if you need help finding a charity, give me a call.  A is to assign your items to a specific location in your home more specifically where they will be used.  Obviously, certain items, such as holiday decorations should be stored in a storage area, not where they will be used.   C is to contain those items in a properly sized container.  That is why I tell my clients not to go out and purchase containers because they usually have enough, they just do not have the right items in them.  E is to equalize and to periodically come back to those spaces to ask yourself if they are still serving your current life. 

Organizing is a learnable skill but is not really completed as our lives change and so should your space.  Purging consistently will leave your home clutter free and your life less stressful. 


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Schedule These Tasks Now

January is here and with it comes cold air, tax season and the flu.   It is time to schedule some tasks on your calendar so you are prepared.  First, make sure all the gloves and mittens in the house have a match and put them where everyone can retrieve them.  If you have some for outside play and some for driving or dress, separate them so they are easier to find. 
Second, go through the magazines and catalogs and recycle all the holiday catalogs.  Keep only those magazines you really read and start non-renewing the ones you do not have time for or have an interest in.  When it comes to how many issues to keep, set a date, such as 2 months or 3 weeks depending on how often the magazine comes out and stick with that number.  Recycle the oldest and feel good about it. 
Another task to complete is to go through your medicine cabinet and make sure all the medicines you might use during the flu season are  current and not expired.  If most or all are expired, make a list and replace them. 
For taxes, make sure you have an expandable folder that you can put all those papers in you receive in the mail during January pertaining to taxes.  Find all the receipts for donations you have made throughout the year and place those in the folder too.  When it is time to complete your taxes, all your papers will be in one place for you or whomever completes your taxes.