If you’ve ever wondered, do organizers really practice what they preach?
I am here to say, YES! In my case, I follow 4 basic rules*:
1. Decide where things live
2. Return items to their “home”
3. Follow In One/Out One
4. Build routines around maintaining systems
The third rule, In One/Out One, is the least appreciated and most neglected by our clients, even though it offers the best defense against clutter build-up.
Here’s a personal story of how it recently went down in my house.
First you have to know that I LOVE citrus. Fresh lemon juice goes into every salad dressing. Fresh lime juice refreshes most fruit bowls. Many of my fish recipes require fresh lemon, lime or orange juice. So my juicer has been a staple in my kitchen. I love that it not only does a great job, it also attaches to a measuring cup – which makes it easy to know when I have enough.
Pictured below on the left, it had a primo spot in my most accessible gadget drawer just below my prep counter. Until…
My husband, an aspiring minimalist, bought me a new juicer. He had researched to get me “the perfect gift.” I was skeptical, even though for him to buy something it MUST be great. I could not imagine HOW anything could replace my beloved juicer.
It would have to at least be:
• super easy to use
• simpler to clean
Well, my new citrus press is all that AND bold and bright. In being so colorful — I smile every time I see it.
But it took me some time to let go of my trusted fave…2 weeks, in fact. I call it the testing time. Some “old” items deserve this reflective time.
Honestly, it took me a week to open the package and try the new “citrus press.” I felt like I was cheating on my trusted go-to.
Once, I tried it, I set an alarm on my calendar to remind me to “consider if keeping new juicer” and a few days later “decide if still need old juicer.”
When you replace something, even if you are committed to In One Out One, you don’t HAVE to let go immediately. But you must put a time limit on making your decision. (It’s too easy for items to stagnate, clog your drawers and attract more clutter.)
Since I was using these gadgets daily, it didn’t take long to know I was in love. As for my “old” juicer, it still has life left in it. My son is a decent cook at college — so guess who just inherited a new fave? 🙂 When he graduates, I will gift him his very own citrus press!
* Remember I said these were 4 rules that I think every Professional Organizer follows?
It’s true of any organized person.
• You don’t have to be a professional organizer to be organized.
• Some people are MORE organized than their organizer (GASP!)
Yes…it’s true. Not every organizer is the MOST organized person you’ll ever meet.
• Professional Organizers know how to help YOU solve your organizational overwhelms and clutter-crisis.
My birthday is Ground Hog’s Eve (Feb 1st). That means I get a do-over for whatever New Year’s Resolutions I haven’t followed through with. I get to make new resolutions for what I want to change before my next birthday. But this year I decided not to make resolutions. I decided to set intentions instead.
Resolutions too often include words like “don’t, won’t or never.” Intentions are focused on the future and can be stated in the present tense every day. After my morning meditation, I frequently set an intention to be grounded and focused throughout my day.
Intentions can become habits. A habit is defined as “an addictive behavior that is hard to give up” but an addiction does not need to be viewed negatively. For example, I am addicted to my grandchildren. The more time I spend with them the more time I want to spend with them.
What would happen if I became addicted to new habits? To become addicted, the first thing I need to do is to explore how I will benefit from my new habit. In sales, we are taught that when we convey the benefit first, ask key questions that lead our prospect to reply “yes” or to nod their head affirmatively, the close will take care of itself.
In December I set an intention to allow more time to get places and not squeeze one more thing in before getting out the door. Then I decided I couldn’t wait until January to put this into action because rushing to get out the door was stressing me out and negatively affecting everyone around me.
It isn’t an intention anymore; it’s a new habit. The benefit of allowing myself more time to get places and get out the door on time is that I don’t feel stressed about forgetting something important or anxious about being late. I am more grounded and focused throughout my day.
Habits create different types of energy. Good habits create positive energy that flows. “Bad” habits create problems like clutter and disorganization; a stagnation of energy, productivity and efficiency.
As a Home Organizer I look for the cause of the clutter and chaos in a space and often I see it is because of “bad” habits like not processing junk mail or not breaking down cardboard boxes when they are empty. When I am finished with a client, I make recommendations to help them to create new habits that will keep the clutter from re-accumulating and will maintain the serenity that organization has created.
One of the biggest challenges in life is to walk your walk and talk your talk. I intend to do that starting now and not wait until New Year’s Eve or Ground Hog’s Eve.
In between holidays, most of us aren’t working…a great use of some of that free time is to get a little organizational housekeeping out of the way. Here are some great, easy steps you can do to start 2019 off on the right foot!
December 31 is the deadline for getting all of your donations together, whether it be financial or stuff. With the new tax laws in place, try tracking donations using It’s Deductible to easily track what has been donated. If it is stuff you want to donate don’t wait until the 31st. I have seen donation centers unable to accept items toward the very end of the year.
Do you look at your holiday cards every season and have no idea who you need to send them to?
This is the time to update your 2019 Holiday Card List! Document who you sent cards to and who you received them from. Keep a record so that you can just pull out your list next year and start addressing. You can do that on a spreadsheet or if you really want to be ahead of the game, you can make a document for your labels so that all you have to do next year is “edit” and ‘print”, easy peasy.
Do you find old gift cards all over your house? Gather your gift cards together in one place so that you can easily find them. If you have a lot, put them in an envelope and label it with the cards you have. This will help save you from letting them expire. Use them before the restaurants that you have them for go out of business (this happened to me this year). I made a reservation and the next day they closed, annoying.
Put your Christmas decorations away properly.
Give away any decorations that you haven’t used in a while. Decorating time will be more pleasant next year if you are only dealing with pieces you really love.
Store the things you love in nice containers that reflect their value to you, There are great containers for wrapping paper, ribbons, wreaths, ornaments, dishware, glassware. Check out The Container Store, Amazon and Frontgate for a wide selection, but don’t wait too long they sell out.
Paper Clear Out
One thing my clients do (actually I do it for them) is to pull all of this year’s bills, receipts and other documents out of their files, we separate the tax documents for the accountant and the most of others get tossed/shredded/filed. The result: clean files ready for the New year to begin and all your papers are gathered for your accountant…yes!
Thoughts for the New Year
Take some time for yourself to review this year’s events (use the photos on your phone to quickly do this).
What was great about this year?
What would have made it a better year?
How can you make the New Year better?
And finally….For ribbons, bow, cards and other miscellaneous items try the Organize It All Christmas.
For your special ornaments try Snapware Snap ‘N Stack Square Layer Seasonal Ornament Storage Container
For your LED lights these are great and they stack very well Christmas Light Storage Wheels with Bag
For your Christmas china and wine glasses we suggest Household Essentials Dinner Plate Holiday Storage Chest
Dessert Plates and Small Bowls
“Where did all this stuff come from anyway? How did it all fit in here in the first place? I can’t believe how long this is taking and how many boxes we have! AAAaahhhh!!!!”
Well, it’s true. When we pull everything out of its storage space, we can see the volume of what we really have. And, for those things that haven’t been seen or touched in years: much of it is astonishing.
“Cans of hairspray? Wait. I haven’t bought hairspray in a can in at least 2…uh, 5…oh, I don’t know – better throw that out. How did these shoes get back here? Man, they’re dusty. And sort of misshapen. Well, okay very misshapen. Nevermind. Out! And, wait. Do we really have 6 new containers of black pepper? Six? I had no idea. This will last us forever!”
You are moving into a new home. Whether larger or smaller than your last, it’s an opportunity to get organized – right from the start! Here are 6 spaces to set up when you move in so you can get and stay organized:
Spice Storage: There are so many options for organizing spices that there is really no reason you need to fight to find what you need, have bottles and jars falling out onto you as you reach behind, or repurchase multiples of what you already have.
Pantry: DIY or go the extra mile and get pro-installation. A pantry organizing system will be a delight to your family today and a great selling point tomorrow.
Under Sinks: Either in the kitchen or bathrooms, under sink storage will make ALL the difference. Enjoy the control and say goodbye to yucky under-sink messes!
Shoes: The struggle is real. First decide where you want to store them (By the entryway? In a closet? Under the bed? In the garage?) Then, reign them in.
Bedroom Closets: If you are renting a home, you may want to save money and purchase some temporary solutions that you can take with you when you move out. For homeowners, installing built-ins is the way to go.
Storage Area: Before you go building columns and walls of heavy boxes stacked one atop another; stop and think. This is what got you into the last mess of storage chaos. Is there room for some shelving? Is there ceiling or wall space to be taken advantage of?
While I was going through items in a kitchen pantry with one of my clients, she commented on how easy it was to organize in the kitchen. When I asked why, she said that if food is expired it takes the decision out of her hands about whether to get rid of it or not. However, with the rest of the stuff in the home, she has to make the decision whether it has ‘expired’ or not. Deciding on the life cycle of your belongings is not easy, but when your spaces become too crowded or you can’t find your keys for the third time in one week, it’s time to take action.
The life cycle concept is one way to work through the backlog of the accumulated clutter in the home and as a strategy to constantly weed out stuff. Our stuff has a life cycle that begins with it being most useful, most beautiful and most beloved. Over time our stuff becomes less useful (obsolete technology; items that wear out or break), less beautiful (fashion trends or our tastes change), and less beloved (reminders of past periods in our family’s life that may not be so important).
When you think about all of the items you bring in to your home on a weekly or monthly basis, it boggles the mind. But if you don’t take out as much as you bring in, over time you will begin to feel like your stuff is taking over. If some of your belongings are starting to become CRAP (Clutter that Robs Anyone of Pleasure), it’s time to consider whether those belongings are part of your family’s present and/or future. Keeping items from the past that no value or meaning to the present day leaves less room for additional items (or opportunities) for the future. For example, as your children grow, do you hold on to the toys they used to love, even though they don’t want them anymore?
Finally, if you are keeping items because you think they might be worth a lot of money, there are ways to find out. One way is to look on Ebay. Is anyone selling the item now? Has anyone sold that item in the last two weeks and for how much? Reputable auctioneers are also good resources for evaluating antiques and collectibles. Mass produced goods from 1960 or later have less of a chance to increase in value. But remember, regardless of what items may have been worth in the past; items are only worth what someone is willing to pay for them today.
When your clutter starts to take over your home, reevaluate whether the life cycle of those items is over or not. Someone else may be able to give your unneeded items a whole new life.
Clutter Quote: “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” Epicurus, ancient Greek philosopher
Reaching into the cupboard for canned pumpkin, you come upon what appears to be a rotting bag of potatoes you’d forgotten that you bought a couple of months ago.
You go down to the basement to pull out your holiday décor and realize it will take days to even get close to the area where it is stored – the boxes you can reach have been chewed into by…something.
You look under a bathroom sink for the ointment you haven’t used since last year’s blister you got while raking and you discover what must be a leaking pipe (and a mass of soggy toiletries).
Just because you have not actively used a storage area for some time, doesn’t mean that it has remained unchanged in your absence. Storage spaces like basements, spare rooms, closets and cabinets can be easily ignored when organizing or cleaning. The items they contain do not present the issue of “visible” clutter. The door is closed and what is stored is not in anyone’s way. Besides, the everyday mass of new paper, gadgets and gizmos coming in that crowd our countertops are enough of a challenge. Who has the time to deal with what’s already stored? Right?
Well, unfortunately, what is out of sight and out of mind is not necessarily out of play in the functioning of our homes and lives.
We want to be able to use the storage that we have in order to be able to put away supplies, seasonal items, sentimental memorabilia and the like, so as to keep them from impinging on our daily living. However, if we continue to shove new items in, we can end up pushing older items back, back, back into the dark recesses known only to the Boogieman. Therefore, an occasional survey of storage spaces can keep them functional and friendly. And, although I doubt you’ll need worry about coming across any ingredients in Shakespeare’s brew, you may want to be prepared for the unexpected when venturing to take-on one of these areas.
If you’ve seen signs of bugs or rodents, consider bringing in an exterminator first and holding off for a week or two on the organizing. If there’s a leak that you cannot find or fix yourself, call a plumber sooner rather than later. Unaddressed leaks and critters can do damage to your health and your home, not to mention your wallet. Take care of them before they turn into a caldron full of trouble.
Let the witches and goblins that ring your bell for candy be your only scary surprise this fall season!
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