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Author: Amanda JeffersonCloset Clothing General Wardrobe Management

How to Get Dressed (Hint: Wear the Same Thing(s) ALL THE TIME)

KonMari Method

I’m a professional organizer with a minimalist streak, so my clients often ask me: “Do you wear the same thing every day?”

The answer is …. Sort of.

I don’t necessarily wear the EXACT SAME THING EVERY DAY, but yes, I have about 4-5 outfits that I wear ALL THE TIME.

Why do I do that?

We make 35,000 decisions a day. That drains us.

As a business owner, mom and CFO and COO (and housekeeper and launderer …) of our household, I’ve got A LOT TO DO. So the last thing I want to waste my energy on is figuring out what the heck to wear.

So, my general formula is:

  • I wear mostly black, dark blue, white and gray.
  • I usually wear black leggings with a tunic-style shirt. (My fave leggings are here: Athleta – pricey but worth it – and Old Navy – inexpensive, so you can buy several).
  • I try to buy higher quality items so that they last longer and wash better.
  • I choose things can be dressed up or dressed down.
  • I wear things that are comfortable.
  • I have to feel amazing in it. (Like, you-might-run-into-your-celebrity-crush great)
  • Oh, and NO ironing!

And that’s about it. There’s no magic formula. There’s no exact number of items. There are no rules.

Ok, so now you may be thinking. Sounds great, Amanda. All puppies and butterflies. But how the heck do I get to that point??

Here’s a few things to try:

Pare it down

  • Kondo It – The KonMari MethodTM provides a great path for making sure EVERYTHING in your closet “sparks joy”. You can get this done in less than 5 hours, with a patient friend or a professional organizer like me. Check out my step-by-step blog post here.
  • Edit often – Sometimes I’ll catch a non-joy-sparking offender in my closet and ask myself “How the heck did you survive in here this long?” Toss it in a basket in your closet, and when the basket is full, donate it.
  • Keep a shopping list – I use Wunderlist to keep a running list of things I need. I do NOT wander aimlessly through the mall. Right now, I need a black camisole and black crew socks. That’s it.

The Bottom Line

When you are at a stage in life where you’ve just got TOO MUCH TO DO, then DO LESSChannel your inner Steve Jobs (black tee and jeans!), make one less decision, and kick your morning off right.

Author: Kelly GalfandClothing General Organizing Productivity Time Management Tips

Avoid “Laundry Overwhelm” with Time-Saving Folding Tips

As a residential professional organizer, I visit lots of homes. One household system that is quick to fall apart and overwhelm a person is LAUNDRY.

I have strong opinions on laundry:
• dark and light clothing should be separated (my children do not all agree)
• “laundry” is not done until it is all put away

You don’t have to share those views, but I see on a weekly basis how the “putting away” is where the system breaks down. Most of us are pretty good starting the laundry process. There is an obvious and inevitable external motivation to wash clothes when one runs out of clean socks or underwear. Many people are also decent at shifting the wet clothes over to the dryer. The widespread access to timers on our phones has made this step particularly easy for even the “follow-through-challenged.”

I see “laundry overwhelm” during the next 2 points in the system:
1) clean but not yet folded clothes that remain clean…until they get mixed with dirty clothes or buried under other stuff
2) folded clothes in baskets — when not returned to dresser drawers or closets they clog bedrooms and hallways and hold laundry baskets hostage creating a problem for dirty clothes who remain “homeless”

If we focus on these 2 connected steps along the process: 1) folding and 2) putting away and employ task batching, the process goes smoother.

Task batching is a way to manage time and perform tasks in sets where the same mental effort and physical energy is used to maximize productivity and streamline a process.

Even if laundry is not the most stressful task, any project you can simplify will free up your mind for the heavy lifting of life. If you’re a procrastinator, my suggestion to task batch your folding and put away steps is good news! It decreases the distance between start and finish and builds in lots of manageable size “loads.” More, but smaller tasks to quickly complete, offer the satisfaction of a job well done!

Task Batching will decrease laundry time and increase productivity!

Take this example of table linens – out of the dryer and onto a folding surface.

Task Batched Folding Steps would look like this:

• Sort clean laundry into categories: if you mix loads from a whole household, your first sort job will be by person, then by category of clothing (socks, underwear, shirts that fold, shirts that hang, bottoms, work out clothing, pajamas…etc).

Time-Saving Laundry Tips - Step 1: Sort

Step 1: sort into categories: this load broke down into hand towels, dish towels and cloth napkins.

• Prep each category so it’s ready to be folded (right any clothes that are inside out or button collars).

• Fold each category separately – meaning one category at a time – preferably on a clean and flat surface.

Fold laundry by category.

• Do all of your folding at once.

  • When you sort by category you are also sorting by location and your folded piles are easy to put where they belong.
  • Put each category away in its right “home”.
Task Batching to streamline your laundry process.

Step 2: fold each mini pile as its own category.
Our cloth napkins need to be ironed so they’ll stay on the ironing board.
The other 2 folded piles will go into their appropriate drawers in the kitchen.

Will task batching your folding process solve all of your laundry dilemma’s? No — but folding by category allows you to delegate small pieces of the project to even the youngest helpers and lets others take pride in the smooth running of the household if you’re lucky enough to live with people who will “volunteer” or as in our household, be volunteered to help 🙂

Author: Martha SpittalClothing Clutter General Home Organizing Productivity Wardrobe Management

80/20 Your 2018

Have you ever gotten to the end of your day wondering what (if anything) of value you actually accomplished? If so, it may be time to pull out the 80/20 Rule!

Professional organizers often apply the 80/20 Rule (a.k.a., the Pareto Principle or the Law of the Vital Few) to decluttering. For example, in a closet, determine the 20% of clothes you wear 80% of the time, purge the 80% of clothes you seldom or never use, and – voila! – you have space for clothes more like your favorite few.

The principle also applies to time. Most of us accomplish 80% of our best work in just 20% of our time, and fritter away 80% of our time doing…what? The key to really accomplishing our goals, to really making an impact, is to focus on the 20% of things we are really good at.

Determining our best 20% when it comes to clothes is pretty straightforward: pull everything out of the closet and start sorting: things I love (or not), things that fit (or not), things that make me look great (or not), etc.

But how do we determine our best 20% when it comes to work? Claire Diaz-Ortiz, in the book Design Your Day, suggests this similar pull-out-and-sort activity to find out:

First, get two pieces of paper. At the top of one write “Big Wins” and on the other write “Activities.”

On the “Big Wins” paper, list things that you’ve done in the past few years, personally or professionally, that have brought you the greatest joy, that have made you feel most alive, that have made you feel like you were in the sweetest of sweet spots. These could be things that happened just once, or continuing things.

On the “Activities” paper, list absolutely everything you do on a regular basis – fun or not fun, significant or not significant, necessary or unnecessary, whatever. Then sort these items into three categories: Things Only I Can Do, Things Someone Else Can Do, and Things I Should Stop Doing. (It might help to rewrite your activities on a fresh piece of paper with three columns headed with these categories.)

Next, cross-check. Things that appear on both your “Big Wins” list and your “Things Only I Can Do” list are your best 20%!

Now, set priorities:

  1. First Priority = Big Wins + Things Only You Can Do
  • These key activities are what you should focus on, but you could also think about if there are ways you could do them in even less time.
  1. Second Priority = Big Wins + Things Someone Else Can Do
  • These are things that need doing, but that could be delegated. You can better do your best work if you’re not trying to do everything!
  1. Third Priority = Things Only You Can Do
  • These items need to be evaluated carefully, because they are not on your list of Big Wins.
  • This category will have important necessities (sleep, doctor’s appointments) and other things that are just time-drains.
  1. Not a Priority = Things You Should Stop Doing
  • Cut it out! (But, don’t be afraid to leave some fun, non-productive activities that rejuvenate you or bring you rest.)

As Diaz-Ortiz says, “ultimately, this activity is a mind-opening way to see where your time and work is really moving the needle and where you’re just running on the hamster wheel to stay busy.”

Let 2018 be the year where you focus on the few vital tasks that best get you to where you want to be.

80/20 your 2018!

Author: Kelly GalfandChallenging Disorganization Closet Clothing Clutter General Home Organizing Wardrobe Management

Becoming Organized: The Case of the Missing Slippers

If being organized is not how you were raised but you’ve started to become more orderly, you may already know: it takes time getting used to “being organized.”

I learned this with a new client: Kim (not her real name) has struggled all her life to maintain a neat space. Her efforts go in waves and she has managed to live a really rich and creative life — but it hasn’t been easy. She’s lost a few things along the way. Paid her share of late fees for bills and penalties for misplaced parking tickets. And wasted time rewashing clothes after the dirty commingled with the clean.

When she was ready to stop this chaos…she called in a professional organizer.

She had 3 areas to organize:
• her wardrobe and bedroom
• her living room – including a desk area
• her hallway which had become an over-crowded storage space

We started in her bedroom because the mess was affecting her sleep. After 3 working sessions we had sorted through all of her clothes, cleared every surface (including the floor) of anything that didn’t belong, rearranged her dresser drawers and closet with zones for each type of clothing she needed in her life.

Moving on to the living room, Kim sheepishly told me a “funny” story about her missing slippers. The one constant in Kim’s life had been lots of weekends away to cabins with friends. In preparing to pack for one such weekend, she described how she had scoured her apartment looking for her slippers. 

She checked ALL of her usual spots: under the coffee table, in the bathroom, kicked under the hallway table, in a pile behind the couch, tucked under her bed, tossed into a corner by her cat…she couldn’t find them anywhere. 

She left for her weekend sans slippers in a bummed mood.

As soon as she got on the road to the cabin, it hit her. She couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Her slippers were right where we had left them — in their new home. They were in the bottom “bay” of the hanging shoe organizer we had installed in her closet.

It was a funny lesson to us both, that getting organized takes some getting used to! The motto of Kim’s story is: It’s easy to find what you need when you need it…when it is right where you left it.

Author: Geri FrankelClothing Electronic Organizing Estates Organizing Wardrobe Management

From Both Sides Now: I Became The Client

Over the past 3 years, I’ve called three different NAPO colleagues to help me with my own organizing projects.  Each time it was a fantastic experience.  Not only did I get stuff done, I really got an appreciation for what it feels like to be the client AND as a result, I am a better Productivity and Organizing Consultant!  

I hired professional organizers (or PO’s) to help me:

  1. clear out my deceased mother’s apartment in Florida (I live in South Jersey)
  2. with technical issues on my computer
  3. purge my clothing and create new outfits

Here are some key takeaways from these sessions:

  • the PO who helped me in FL was from the area; she knew which charities would come and get all that “brown furniture” and the location of other key resources.  HUGE TIME SAVER! She had also gone through cleaning out after the death of a loved one; her compassion helped me through many emotionally-difficult moments.
  • All three organizers that I hired were supportive and upbeat; it reminded me of this critical element of being a great PO.
  • I needed to talk a bit before plunging into a session; I toe the line between letting a client talk, but needing to gently guide them back to the organizing task at hand. All three organizers understood and implemented this.
  • It is OK that clients want to offer you a refreshment; when I was the client I wanted to feed my PO’s.  I was thrilled when they said yes!  Although I like to decline such offers when I am the PO, I now understand that it is a nice thing to say yes, as long as the session does not turn into an unproductive (as defined by the client) gab session.
  • Things really DO take longer to organize than one might think.   I had unrealistic expectations of what I could get done in one session!  Even as a veteran organizer!
  • I DID tidy up my computer desktop and my closet before each of the PO’s dealing with them arrived, even though I ask my clients to leave things “as is” so I can get a sense of the natural state of affairs before any organizing systems are developed.

tech-organizing

  • During the tech-organizing session, the PO and I discussed my overall business goals.  She encouraged me to join a …join one of NAPO’s Special Interest Groups (SIGs), which I did.  INVALUABLE!
  • I did need that extra “push” from the wardrobe PO.  Example: I knew deep down that many of my clothes did not fit, but SO did not want to deal with that. The PO gently guided me to that conclusion and, one trip to the GAP later, I purchased 3 pairs of pants that fit like a glove. I now have presentable outfits!  She also had me TRY ON new outfits we created, AND I was able to give away items that I knew I needed to but previously had trouble parting with.  Having someone else encouraging these actions was the dealmaker!  We also established some rules for going forward, e.g.  that I must only buy PETITE-sized clothing!

I was thrilled by what I got done:  cleaned out an overwhelming amount of stuff so I could close down my mother’s apartment, became very tech-comfortable, and am feeling stylish and well-dressed like never before.  The gratitude I feel towards these organizers is immense.

I close by urging all PO’s who have never hired another Professional Organizer to do so.  Everyone can improve their productivity and up their level of being organized.  And you’ll have much greater understanding and empathy for your clients!

 

Author: Robin StankowskiCloset Clothing Home Organizing Wardrobe Management

Hello Old Friend

So, I’ve been saying that a lot lately and not to who you would think. It’s been to inanimate objects! You know, the smoothie you start drinking again because you are going to give ‘that diet’ another go. Why do we address people and things this way? A matter of playful affection towards a friend who we’ve known since grade school? Used in jest as we put on our bikini for the first time in the Summer?

As we sort through our things, we go through this playful or sometimes sinister game with these items:

  • Is it really old and needs to be tossed? Has it worn out its welcome?
  • Is it really a friend? Was it kind to you over the years? You know, that go-to outfit that never disappointed?

Play the “Friends, Acquaintances and Strangers” game created by organizing guru Judith Kolberg:

  • Hold each item and evaluate how often you use it and if it has a home;
    • Frequent use = Friend
    • Occasional use = Acquaintance
    • Rare or no use = Stranger
  • Keep your friends, some acquaintances and purge your strangers

Friends come and go and so do the things in our lives. If it doesn’t bring you joy, it’s time to say adieu. Keep the items you hold valuable close to you and enjoy!

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