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Closet Questions

I was interviewed and the article was published last week on http://www.asburylanestyle.com.  Here is the post:

Last week we promised some more info on closet organization. We turned to Organizer Laurie Mattingly of Organizing With Laurie, a member of NAPO, the National Association of Professional Organizers, and asked her for some help:

This can be an overwhelming project to tackle. How would you recommend getting started? Simply put, the best way to get started is just begin with one small section.  Taking fifteen minutes to sort through and pull items you likely will not wear again is a great way to begin.  Waiting for the time to have hours to invest is the perfect way to procrastinate.

Do I need to hire a professional?
Anyone can read tips and set themselves to the task of organizing their spaces.  Most people who hire professional help value it as an investment to reach their goals more quickly and efficiently.  Many of my clients have made remarks such as, “I don’t know why I can’t do this without you; but I know I would have stopped a long time ago if you weren’t here to help me make decisions and keep me motivated.”

What kind of accessories do I need, such as hangars, bins, organizers, etc?
There is no standard formula for the perfect hanger, bin or organizer as individual lifestyles dictate very different wardrobes. Using bins or drawer dividers to help categorize alike items together make it easier to put everything away and keep things in place.   One person may benefit from a scarf organizer while another may benefit from a freestanding drawer system to manage categories of workout clothes. Space saving hangers are great, but being consistent with any style of hanger gives a finished and organized appeal.

How do I decide what to keep and what to throw away?
Many closets are stuffed with items that we feel guilty about getting rid of because we spent money on them.  Once a client is convinced it is more wasteful to allow items to be hidden away without being used it is easier to purge.  Instead of feeling guilty, they have an opportunity to bless others and feel the relief that comes from lightening their load.  Keep what fits, what you love and what you wear.

Any other great advice??
Sort similar clothing items together — jeans, black pants, khaki pants, long sleeve, short sleeve, etc. Once you become aware that you have multiple pairs of black pants, you can make more educated decisions about what to keep. Group items together in ways that make sense for you, support your lifestyle and help your processes flow smoothly.  For some, color coordinating is important — for others separating business clothes from casual clothes makes the most sense.  Once you have determined a comfortable equation for the amount of clothing for the storage space available to you it is time to adopt the “one in, one out rule.”  When you buy something new, remove an item from your closet. Hang your clothes in your closet backwards.  When you wear something, return it to the closet correctly.  You will soon be able to see all the items you are not wearing as they will still be hanging backwards.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help. A good professional organizer doesn’t impose patterns on you but rather asks questions to help you discover an approach you will most likely be able to maintain.

Christmas Gift Guilt

We GIFT BOXmade it through another Christmas!  I hope yours was filled with laughter and the love of family and friends.  We are still in the midst of our celebrating and planning visits from children and grandchildren, enjoying family as we see them and missing those who we will not be seeing this season.  I ended up giving our adult children a big “CC”.  I typed up a poem of sorts explaining that while some may refer to the “CC” as a “Christmas Cop Out”, I preferred to think of it as a “Christmas Choice”.  Basically, I gave them cash so they could choose a gift they would not need to return.  It is a good idea, but at the same time I did feel a little guilty that I hadn’t stood in line for that perfect and exciting present to open.  I was thinking about this last night and I realized that my experiences helping clients sort through and make decisions about their clutter had inhibited my ability to choose a gift!  Some of the biggest delays in making the decision to part with an unused item that is robbing someone of precious real estate centers around that fact that it was a gift. They hold the item, maybe even clutch it to their chest, but cannot say yes when asked the questions, “Do you use it? Do you love it?” However, placing it in the donate pile causes anxiety because it was a gift. Eventually I am able to help them understand that the special giving moment happened when they opened it — and that feeling of sharing and being thought of was the gift — not the object.  There is no value in an item taking up precious space when it could possibly be a treasure to someone else.  The thought of not letting the gift go to waste usually allows the receiver to release the guilt as well as the gift. So, this Christmas I want to encourage everyone to use me as your reason to release any thoughtful items that (however well intended) may not fall into the category of “I will love this and I will use this”.  You can lift the guilt from your shoulders and say “a professional organizer told me it was wasteful to keep something I would not be able to use”.  Go ahead — get in line — return that gift and be happy knowing the giver cared about you and that was what it was really all about.

CHRISTMAS! ALREADY?

When I was a little girl a very magical thing happened during nap time on Christmas Eve — Santa Claus came to our house and brought EVERYTHING Christmas! The tree, the presents, the food!  It was delightful! We lived with my grandparents at the time and all of my aunts and uncles and cousins would gather for the merriment. The sights and smells and sounds were enjoyed from Christmas Eve all the way through New Years Day! Then Christmas was over and everything Christmas Treewas gone. (I don’t remember if I ever wondered why Santa didn’t come pack up his own mess.) NOW the count down for Christmas seems to begin at Easter! In our neighborhood homes were adorned with lights before Halloween. There are many people who rent storage units to accommodate all of their decorations and managing the Christmas season can be a major undertaking. For most of us, we enjoy the Christmas season somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. I have one small tip to share as you find yourself setting out your decorations and adorning your tree. TAKE NOTE! Are there items you notice that you have been storing but are no longer setting out? Now is the time to be ruthless and consider allowing some of your past treasures to find new life in someone else’s home. You may donate some things, sell some things, re-gift some things or pass down some things — but THINGS is the key word — beware of having too many of them unless they are truly loved and used. Simplifying the process will relieve the stress involved in “setting up and putting away” and give you more time to relax and enjoy the season.

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the time of the year we pause and reflect on all of our many blessings.  WThanksgiving wordse relax, spend quality time with family and friends and bask in the glow of all of the many things in our lives for which we are thankful.  Wait.  That’s not describing how you feel during this time of year?  Well, join the crowd!  Somewhere along the line Thanksgiving has been almost completely blurred out with constant reminders of how many Saturdays we have between now and Christmas and the frenzied appeals for the very best Black Friday deals! Resist the urge to get caught up in the mania!

Thanksgiving really can be the best motivator for taking time to take stock of our many blessings.  It is also a perfect time to pause and consider whether all of the items in are home are things we truly cherish and use on a regular basis.  Instead of setting out to stock up and save on of all of those holiday sales, we can take time to share with others.  I like to encourage my clients to “shop and share”  by giving away something before bringing something new into their homes.  This is the best time of year to donate items that are simply clogging up space that someone else may actually treasure and use.

Be very alert and careful not to get sucked in by clever marketing schemes that will end up as clutter.  You may find the best use of your time on Black Friday is to stay at home and take stock of what you are simply storing that you could share.  Your home will be thankful to feel a little less crowded and stressed, and if walls could talk, you might be able to hear them stretch and breathe a sigh of relief!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Car Clutter Confessions

Many of you may be familiar with the FlyLady’s acronym for C.H.A.O.S. (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome.)  The other day I realized I was suffering from C.H.A.I.M.C.S.  Yeah, that doesn’t spell a clever word — it just stands for “Can’t Have Anyone In My Car Syndrome!”  I was actually embarrassed to have someone park next to me and peek inside.  I drive an old school minivan, which has served me well.  It hauls lots of  “clutter donations”  to local charities for clients and it can pack in 5 grand-kids.  I don’t always deliver to the charities iminivan clip artmmediately, and the grand-kids have a way of leaving “momentos” behind.  Let’s face it,  I have a problem remembering that my car is for transportation — not my personal locker to store items for all activities past, present and future!  So I reminded myself that I am a professional organizer and started a car organizing session. I asked myself the questions I frequently pose to my clients.  Do I need this?  How will I use it? Where will my brain think to look for it when the time comes to use it?  There actually were some items that I could justify keeping in my car and I found a tidy “home” for them to belong so they would be handy when needed.  Several things found their way to the trash and other items needed to be returned to their proper place inside our home.  Now my mission is to clear the car after each trip, so that 30 second investment of time can prevent a pile up requiring another looooooooooooong session of cleaning out the car! Happy travels — I may even welcome you into my car one day!

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE “FOLLOW THROUGH”

baseball pitcher

Watch any sports coach training someone to handle the skills of their sport and you will often hear the phrase “follow through”. It is not enough to begin the task of throwing a ball by simply releasing it into the air. In order for the ball to end up in the desired location, your arm and body movement must continue beyond releasing the ball. That concept can be applied to the “sport of  conquering clutter”. The “wind up”, so to speak, is to identify where clutter collects, and find appropriate spots for clutter to belong. (A place for everything.) The trick to keeping the clutter under control lies in the “follow through.” (Everything in its place.) So the next time you are tempted to toss your car keys on the counter, think about following through and take a couple of seconds to put them where they belong. “Follow through” and place a dish in the dishwasher instead of in the sink. Bringing the mail inside the house is the wind up. Quickly sorting, tossing/recycling and placing items in an action file is the follow through that eliminates paper clutter. Notice where your clutter likes to “clog up the flow” in your life and think about how following through with those items the first time they are handled can help you conquer clutter. Its all about the follow through!

BACK TO SCHOOL ALREADY?

Back to School clip art

Summer has flown by! I can’t believe how long it has been since my last post. Our summer has been busy!

This is the time of year when we squeeze in those last vacations and eek out as much summer fun as possible. It’s funny, but even when there are no longer children in the home, or maybe no children in the home yet — we all tend to hearken back to our own childhoods. We come to the end of long summer days and we try to start fall with fresh new enthusiasm.

Many of you are sorting through your closets and “sizing up” your needs for the fall season. Now is a good time to bless another family with clothes that have just been taking up space in your storage areas. Have you ever tried the trick of hanging your clothes backwards? Once they have been worn and laundered, they can be hung up properly. After a few months, you can easily identify the clothes that have never been worn because they are still hanging up backwards.

Speaking of LAUNDRY — do you ever feel like you live in a laundry business? Have you ever tripped over piles of dirty clothes? Or how about the times you had to re-wash stacks of clean clothes that  stayed out so long they got mixed up with dirty clothes? I have been sharing my “NO SORT LAUNDRY SYSTEM” with some of my clients who struggle to keep up with laundry and they have been saying things like, “this has changed my life”.  I will be glad to send a copy of this system to anyone who is interested.  Simply send a request for the “NO SORT LAUNDRY SYSTEM” to laurie@organzingwithlaurie.com  and I will attach it to my reply.

Meanwhile, enjoy these last days of summer to the fullest!

SUMMER SCHEDULES

Happy SUmmer Clip Art.Summer!  Freedom! The days are longer and the obligations relax — especially if you have school age children.  It’s so great to take a break from all of the deadlines and routines.  Or is it really?

Even though freedom from the calendar seems so desirable, it really can be your best friend.  Take some time to make sure you make the best use of your relaxing summer days and schedule in the things you want to be sure to accomplish.  Plan those fun activities and special days around making sure the laundry and housekeeping chores are kept up to date. It is perfectly okay to plan to do nothing — just not every day!

Sometimes time management issues  lead to clutter control challenges.  Before we get TOO far into the lazy days of summer — it may be a good idea to take some time to reflect on how we will best use that time.  We’re pretty good at marking off the big stuff like family vacations or going to camp and other such things – but do we remember to plan for the preparation time  – and better yet –  the recovery time?  Do not forget to schedule unpacking and regrouping days!

If you have children it may be a good idea to establish a routine so that everyone knows their boundaries.  Every second does not have to be regimented, but there can still be some guidelines for scheduling active play, quiet play, reading vs. screen time, chores and planned meal times and snack times.

Planning your days will make them more enjoyable and productive and free up more time to spend relaxing with family and friends. Happy Summer!

Pantry Practices

Recently I attended an event and offered a prize drawing for a free pantry organizing session.  This sparked a lot of conversations about pantries and issues we have with them.  Bottom line? A lot of us have “pantry clutter”!  Clutter is something that you are storing but not currently using.

It is absolutely helpful to find ways to categorize and contain items to make them more accessible; but a lot of the time the problem is simply a case of too much product for the square footage we have available to store our pantry items.

The actual best tip for pantry storage is to buy what you plan to use and replace it when you have used it.

The most efficient kitchens are set up by people who plan a weekly menu, purchase items that are needed for the week and they empty their pantry as the week goes on.

But what about when you have leftover ingredients that you needed to buy for a recipe? Answer: Shop from your pantry when planning your meals.  See what you have that you can use to plan your menu for the week.

But what about buying things and stocking up when you find good deals?  Answer: If you have the luxury of space and know that you are stocking items you will use, then go for it.  Remember to shop from your pantry when planning menus.

Sometimes the best bargain is not a good deal at all if it crowds your space so that items are inaccessible and end up being wasted because they are forgotten and unused before their expiration date.

Make a game of seeing how many meals you can put together without shopping at the store — get creative and enjoy some breathing room in your pantry!

I would love to hear some crazy recipes — or how long you were able to cook without buying pantry items.

 

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MOTIVATION…sometimes all you need is help from a friend!

I have needed to “bless my house” with a quick pick me up — clutter control, vacuum, dust — that’s all.  But I have needed to do it for days — and if I don’t hurry up and start it will really grow into something I have to CLEAN. When it is not really dirty, it is easier to justify putting it off and I have been finding hundreds of other things to do to avoid starting the task. One of those things was texting with my daughter about her laundry project. Her washing machine had just been repaired and she was buried in catching up from the backlog of laundry for a family of seven.  I asked her if she could motivate me to do the project I was avoiding before it piled up to a bigger job and she replied, “Just Do It!”  Ugh – that was so something I would have said to her – so I told her I was going to get going and text her with my progress.  I got out the vacuum cleaner and my duster and began.  I divided my house into 3 zones and I stopped after each zone to text my daughter with my progress so that I could time how long it actually took to complete each zone. I found that plan kept me going and I did not allow myself to stop for all the little things that can usually distract me.  Zone 1 took 2o minutes, Zone 2 is a bigger area and it took 35 minutes and Zone 3 was only 15 minutes.  So the task that I had hanging over my head for days actually only took a little over one hour.  BAM!  And now that I know how long it takes, I can knock it out quickly one zone at a time on days that I truly do not have an hour. SO…sometimes all you need for the motivation to start is a little help from a friend — even if you have to text to another state to find the friend to give you the motivation to “Just Do It”.