Organize Now! Organize now and stop putting it off. It’s just a matter of dedicating some time to the process. You will see the benefits of organizing if you do a little over a consistent period of time. If you don’t organize now you could make life unnecessarily difficult for yourself and your family in unexpected ways. 3 Reasons Why You Don’t Want to Avoid Organizing: Illness or death Sentiment and emotion Maintain independence Illness or Death Life is unpredictable. At some time you may be faced with a significant illness or injury. Eventually you and your family will have to face your mortality. We all experience life transitions. You owe it to yourself and your family to declutter and organize so that your information and belongings are in order, just in case. Downsize your inventory. At a point in our lives we kept things because they seemed important and meaningful. Later on they may no longer serve us; it is okay to let them go. Have an emergency plan. Friends and family should know where to find your spare key, what your blood type is, and your physician’s name and phone number. Share important information. Maintain and update a copy of important medical, family, insurance and financial information. Share this with a trusted friend or family member. Sentiment and Emotion Decluttering and downsizing sentimental items is more difficult than other belongings. You may encounter memories and emotional attachment to those things. You don’t want someone who doesn’t understand what your possessions mean to you to make decisions for you. You can do this on your own and with guidance from a Professional Organizer. Either way YOU get to make the decisions about what to keep and what to let go of. Getting things in order is a proactive way… read more →
Organizing Sentimental Items As a Professional Organizer I know that organizing sentimental items is challenging for many of you. This is especially true during the purging stage when you are deciding what to keep and what to let go of. Remember that the benefits of organizing anything, including sentimental items, is that you are able to revisit fond memories. The question is why do we let sentimental items become clutter? The reasons are usually emotional: Fear Guilt Attachment Perceived emotional value Perceived financial value Fear When organizing, some people fear that letting go of a sentimental item is a sign of disrespect, or that they will forget the person or event the item reminds them of. Organizing Tip: If you really don’t want or need the item take a photo of it and add the photo to your other photos of that person or the event. Then donate the item. If you aren’t ready to let it go, display the item next to a framed photo. Guilt Items that are passed down through families aren’t always valued by later generations. Even though, some of us feel guilty letting go of family heirlooms. As a Professional Organizer I don’t think that it is fair or reasonable to tell someone not to feel guilty. It is something that the person will have to decide. Organizing Tip: If you really do not want the item try packing it away and letting a friend or relative hold on to it. Set a time frame for when you will be ready to let it go. If feelings of guilt arise during that time frame retrieve the item and find a way to use it or display it. Attachment If sentimental items bring you pleasure that is sufficient reason to keep them. Organizing Tip: You don’t… read more →
Several years ago a woman called me because her friend threatened her! The friend was concerned and frustrated because she tried to help the woman get rid of the excessive amount of stuff in her home without any success. She reached the last straw when the woman tripped over a pile of newspapers and as a result of the fall, broke her foot. Now in a cast and forced to go up and down the stairs on her bottom, the friend threatened to call protective services if a professional organizer was not hired. This was an extreme situation, of course, and yet it raised numerous issues related to organizing and how it can improve both personal safety and health. In less extreme situations clutter, or excessive quantities of items, objects, and paperwork, can cause a variety of other concerns in addition to obstacles that cause falls: Fire hazard Compromised emergency preparedness, inability to access important items in an emergency or exit a building safely Injuries from stacked items falling Dust and mold that may cause or aggravate allergies, asthma Social isolation that may be caused by shame surrounding a cluttered environment, including estrangement from family members, and a negative impact on interpersonal relationships. If this sounds like someone you know or a situation that troubles you, it’s time to talk with a Professional Organizer. As a Professional Organizer I am part of an industry that trains us to work with these situations in a systematic, confidential and non-judgmental manner. It is stressful for a family member or friend to help no matter how much they care and mean well. They can support the work that the individual does with the professional. Write down your questions, concerns, and most importantly, your goals. All it takes is a phone call to start your forward movement.
Maybe you’ve tried organizing and given up. Perhaps, you don’t know where to start. Before you take action and start the process of organizing you want to identify any potential hurdles…we all have them! There are different kinds, see if any of these sound like you: External: physical space, physical stamina, resources and supplies, amount of “stuff” Internal: perceptions about time it would take or the time you have available, attitudes about success or failure, attitudes about what being organized means These are just some of the factors to consider. There are some great books that you can purchase or borrow to help you with both external and internal aspects of the organizing process. You can also discuss them with a Professional Organizer, such as Outside In Organizer and Makeovers! TIP: Work to your strengths and align with your needs. One size doesn’t not fit all.
As a Professional Organizer I get great satisfaction from 2 things…helping clients to make decisions that enable them to clear clutter, and the reactions and comments that they offer afterwards! “Wow, I didn’t realize how spacious this could be, it looks so much bigger now!” Often, the client wants to clean the space, first. The use of touch and motion when dusting, polishing or vacuuming is comparable to a loving hug for the space or area. Decorating the space or area with aesthetically and emotionally pleasing items is another way to honor the space. Placing just a few special things in the cleared space is so attractive now that the client is more likely to maintain their new organizing habits to keep the space clear. Putting out items that have been stored is another creative way of celebrating the open area; it’s like shopping in your own home! Every couple of months you can rotate items from storage to keep it fresh. During the process of sorting, de-cluttering, and deciding what to keep you identify what is useful and what you still love. Using or displaying the item you keep is the ultimate way to honor and celebrate cleared space. Enjoy!
Okay, my clients trust me in their spaces, with their “stuff”, and with their stories. I’m going to share my story (a little bit of vulnerability) and tell you why I am able to understand and help others let go and in a compassionate way. Here’s my story: To some extent I can understand some of my clients’ struggles regarding an attachment to things. We assign memories to things and emotions to those memories. There is the judging of importance that a thing may hold. For some, there is the guilt that comes when the person begins to think about getting rid of something. They might be conflicted about its real or perceived value. Some individuals wonder, what if I need it later? Some are burdened by the concept of waste from a financial and/or environmental perspective. The latter is sure that everything can be reused and re-purposed. This brings me to my personal situation and the recognition (not judging) of my struggle. It is the story of my sheets! One of the first significant purchases that I made when I moved was a new bed and luxurious linens. They made me feel like I was in a cocoon of comfort, and on a blank canvas that no one else had marked. This bed represented the start of a new chapter of my life. All of this happened many years ago and I was immersed in this magical thinking. It was such a strongly held belief that even when the cruel truth of betrayal was revealed, I could not view the material things as just a bed and old, worn linens. I was in denial and focused on my fears…how could I afford, or justify spending a lot of money on new linens. How could I settle for lesser quality?… read more →
Do you find yourself hesitating to get rid of things? Having “organizing ground rules” will help you make easier, quicker decisions. Rule #1: Do a little at a time. Rather than set out to declutter the entire house, use the Outside In Approach “1-at-a-Time Rule”. One closet, drawer, surface, etc. at a time. Rule #2: The 3 P’s – plan, prepare, purge. Determine your goal, schedule time to execute your plan, have the supplies you’ll need on hand, know where you are going to donate, discard, recycle,or consign. Have the bins, bags ready. Have the time to take the purged items away that same day, if possible. Rule #3: Ask yourself guiding questions to help make decisions. Do I love it? Do I need it now, or in the next 3 months? Is it in working or wearable condition? Can someone else use it more than me? Does it still serve my purposes? Be gentle, don’t judge yourself.
With so much media attention on hoarding behavior I find that people either fear that they are hoarding, or just the opposite, and are in denial about their behavior. I just read an review in the New York Times of “The Hoarder in You: How to Live a Happier, Healthier, Uncluttered Life” by Robin Zasio. It was described as “about the best self-help work I’ve read in my 46 years as a health and science writer” by reviewer Jane Brody. I’m going to purchase the book right now so that I can share the information with all you. Maybe we can start a dialogue on my blog: http://outsideinorganizer.com
Sound familiar? For some people the very idea of letting go of an item is very difficult and even emotional. As an Organizer I often hear my clients thank me for helping by “giving permission” to donate or discard things. Sometimes it’s compassionate coaching, and using guiding questions to help the client make the decision. Other times it’s tough love… setting up rules or parameters for what stays and what goes! The beauty of the process and working together is when the noticeable shift occurs and once the client sees and literally feels less burdened by their stuff, they use that new energy and momentum to continue the process even when I am not there with them! I love it and so do they.
Do you have too many cards and photos but just can’t get rid of them? Try displaying some of them in frames, then change them every couple of months. If they are that important they shouldn’t sit in a box, right?