I read this very interesting article on Fashionista this week about how the “It” or “must have” trends come and go so quickly they can become “ho hum” before you can take them out of the bag. When everybody has “it,” “it is no longer as desirable. We all want to stand out but we also want to fit in but you can’t do both (thank you Seth Godin). Nobody wants to feel like they’re a victim, in particular a victim of fierce marketing strategies of the fashion industry. So how do you find that balance between looking like you are of this era and what does that have to do with organization? Continue reading
Does your bathroom counter or dresser look like this? You’ve got necklaces strewn on top because you don’t want them to get tangled in a drawer? Even worse, if you can’t see them you forget that you have them? We all know that out of sight means out of mind so it’s important to have easy access to your accessories otherwise you’ll never wear them.
This is a thoughtful article about a book I am eager to read, Everything That Remains. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with The Minimalists and their mission to lead more meaningful lives not encumbered by the acquisition of stuff. That’a a pretty minimalist description so you should go to their website to get the full story. I’m definitely not doing it justice here. 🙂
I completely agree with their idea getting rid of anything in their homes that doesn’t have a function or bring them joy. The article posits that “getting organized” is a myth and just a ploy to continue mass consumerism. Is “clearing clutter” a canard to acquire more stuff? I admit I felt taken aback at reading this wondering if it applied to me. Do I help people clear clutter and get organized so that they can just have more stuff and have it look better? The answer is a resounding “NO” but I can see where they would think that. The top selling women’s magazine issues’ are typically the “getting organized” issues that are released throughout the year. Too often we are caught up in getting the new product (phone, It bag, car, ikat pillow or faux antlers, etc.) and not paying attention to what we already have and how it’s serving us.
What do you think of minimalism? Could you live in less space if you got rid 50% of your possessions? Could you live without a TV? Phone? Internet? I’m not sure I could and I’m not sure what that says about me. Hmmm. Food for thought.
A funny story about one of my latest organization projects: I asked my client if she used a letter opener when she opened her mail. She had 2 so I was curious if she used them or not. She said:
“I want to use them but I can never find them when I open my mail.”
If I had a nickel for every time I asked a client if they used something and the answer was “I want to,” I’d have a lot of nickels. Wanting to and doing are 2 totally different actions: one is mental and one is physical. The physical should win when deciding whether to keep accoutrements acquired during the “wanting to” phase. I’m all for trying new activities and intellectual or physical pursuits but when you don’t commit to actually doing these things, your home becomes cluttered with all of the things you want to do instead of full of things that support what you actually do. That can be a lot of clutter and I’m not even going to talk about the guilt associated with buying stuff that you haven’t used. You could have a house filled with guilt!
The point is to look carefully at your life and what you enjoy doing and support those efforts. Time is too short to be spent worrying about what you spent on activities you don’t participate in. Forget that you’re not going to get to that needlepointing/ ice climbing/ painting/ <insert other craft here> and give those items to someone who will use it. They’ll appreciate the contribution and you can feel better clearing out your house.
Also, you don’t use what you can’t see. You’ve probably heard the saying “of out of sight, out of mind”a few times in your life! If you can’t see or easily locate it, you won’t use it. Put a system in place so you can find what you need to easily. You should be able to tell a stranger where just about everything should be in your home if you had to.
So what happened to the letter openers? Problem solved because now they are on top of the paper storage, in plain site where she opens her mail. I love it when a plan comes together!
Just as artists will study a master painting to learn techniques for color, shadow, and composition so anyone can learn from someone else’s closet makeover. Continue reading
This may be professional suicide but I have a confession to make about my least favorite place to organize: the unfinished basement. I don’t know if it just stems from my childhood fear that there was some sort of monster lurking in the shadows underneath the stairs or the abundance of spiderwebs but the basement is just not my favorite place to organize.
That being said and off my chest now, I can tell you that it is a place that I can organize very quickly because I know what lurks down there and I don’t want to be there very long.
If you have boxes that you put in the basement during your last move to “go through someday” now is the time to do that. Just do it. Before you have a flood or other water damage that seeps through the dirty cardboard and ruins your priceless photographs or other memorabilia. Chances are, if you haven’t looked at it in more than 5 years and you don’t know what’s in there off the top of your head, you don’t need it.
Cardboard is my nemesis. That and wire hangers make me crazy because of the bad things they do under the guise of being helpful. Cardboard is perfect for sending packages and helping you move but it is not for long term storage. It gathers dust, doesn’t protect from moisture, attracts vermin, you can’t see through it, and is ugly. Go through your boxes to make sure you know what is in there and if you need to keep anything, put it in a clear box with a lid and label it. Plastic is not impervious but it is a step in the right direction.
The basement is also a gathering place for project leftovers that you may or may not need to keep. I can tell you that wall putty, cement, joint compound, and 1/4 filled cans of latex paint will not last forever down there. Anything that is water based that has been opened will have a shorter lifespan than you think so buy small unless you are doing some major renovations. Also, consider storing those types of repair materials in a less humid and cleaner environment. Latex paint can be put into glass jars if you have a half gallon or less. Make sure you label the jars with the maker and color of paint as well as where it was used in your house. You could even attach the paint chip to the jar to be super organized. Seal these jars tightly as any air is going to cause them to dry out. Also, clean the cans and seal them back well if you’ve got enough to keep the paint in the original can.
While we are on the subject of paint, if you’ve repainted any rooms in your house, you don’t need to keep the old paint, do you? No sir-ee. That means you can clear that paint out and make room for the new paint. Less stuff=less clutter.
Not sure what to do with random leftover screws or nails? Use a glass jar to corral all of them (or use 2–1 for screws and 1 for nails) so that you then know where to look if you need a screw or nail. It’s all about creating a home for everything, even if it’s temporary.
Last but not least, don’t neglect your basement. If you never go down there then make sure whatever is down there is secure and safe. Add shelving units or pallets for what you do need to store down there so it’s not on the floor. Sweep the floor and get rid of cobwebs. Add some lighting so that the monsters have no place to hide. 🙂 Your home is a reflection of you and your basement is your foundation. Let it be a clean and ordered foundation.
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
While I’ve researched the origin of this quote, I was unable to find the true source. A derivation of the quote has been attributed to a couple of people, John Ray (1670) and Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153), but not this exact version of it. If I could, I would amend it to include “…and a lack of information.”
One trait I have discovered in working with clients is that they are very thoughtful people who are well intended with their possessions especially when they are ready to get rid of them. They want them to be cared for and utilized but, since they are not sure how to get rid of them, they don’t and end up with piles, full drawers and closets and even rooms full of ‘stuff.’ I’ve talked a lot about resources for donations (Goodwill, MUST Ministries, Salvation Army) of clothes and other household items but frequently there are items that can’t be donated and clients get stuck on what to do with these items. Here are some examples of things that aren’t trash but they aren’t necessarily treasure, either:
- Cell phones
- Electronic games
- Light fixtures
- Old paint
The issue of what to do with items is another example of why hiring a professional organizer is worth every penny because THEY KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH THIS STUFF and they can usually help you dispose of it, too. Professional Organizers have a vast network of local resources that can provide a solution to just about any donation or disposal question. Also, if they don’t have the immediate answer, they know how to get it. Professional Organizers love helping clients clear their clutter and want to make sure that it is done in a responsible manner. Part of their service is to provide resources not only for products to aid in the organization process, like containers, shelves, and boxes, but also to help their clients dispose of their excess in a way that benefits as many people as possible. Don’t let yourself get hung up on not clearing clutter because you don’t know what to do with it. Call a professional to help you! You can find organizers in your area by searching on the NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) website:
Here are some resources you may want to think about bookmarking for your own clutter clearing projects:
So don’t let lack of information halt your good intentions to get rid of the clutter in your home. Call and organizer for help and advice. They are happy to hear from you!