Do you know this woman?
Laboring to keep this ball of possessions aloft...nearly crushed by the weight of her stuff...dragging even more behind her. Could this be you?!
Last weekend, while in Manchester, NH, for my daughter's robotics tournament, I took some time in the middle of the day to visit the Currier Museum of Art.
When I walked through the glass doors into their special exhibit by artist Ethan Murrow, I gasped and stoped in my tracks. In front of me, larger than life, was this incredible, mural sized Sharpie drawing.
"That's how my clients feel before they call me,"
I said to my husband.
They feel overwhelmed, overloaded with stuff (physical things, paperwork, digital stuff, or even memories), and they just don't know where to begin unraveling it. When we feel that way, it can seem as if we're hauling the full weight our possessions on our shoulders, and even then we can't fit it all and have to drag the rest behind us!
Does the poor woman get any help? The child looks less like he's trying to prop up the ball of stuff and more like he's just trying to avoid having it fall on him. The full burden is on her!
And yet, there's beauty in this work of art. I admire the exquisite detail in the variety of items, the flowing quality of the Sharpie-drawn lines, and the woman's strong, even elegant, pose.
We can find beauty in confronting our possessions. Do we need to labor under such a heavy burden? No! We can enlist the help of our family (That child is definitely old enough to help!), our friends, and professional organizers (This is what we love to do!). Take a look at that ball of things and discover the legacy of your life that it contains.
We can begin, piece by piece, to untangle the blob of accumulated possessions.
This month, I'm partnering with the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Research Foundation's Knowledge is Power campaign to help people get organized and reduce stress.
The short month of February is more than half over, but there’s still time to clear the clutter and get more organized.
According to an article in Psychology Today, “Messy homes and work spaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed.” So true!
But where do you start? This quick 1-2-3 will make your space more serene.
1. Grab a laundry basket, tote bag, or trash bag and zoom around your house picking up all the “strays” – things that belong elsewhere. This will fill more than just one bag, you say? Then start with your most-visible or most-used room (maybe your kitchen, living room, or bedroom). For a fun challenge, play your favorite upbeat music and see how many songs it takes you to gather everything.
2. Find homes for all those strays. If the item doesn’t already have a designated place in your house consider the following.
3. Going forward, find a mantra that works for you so you don’t end up with so many strays again. Repeating a saying such as “put it away right away” or “don’t put it down, put it away” can help break the habit of not putting things back, dramatically reducing future clutter.
Now, sit down with a good book and a cup of tea and enjoy a few minutes of peace in your newly-cleared space.
Can't we all use a little laugh to break up the busy-ness of the holiday season? Here's Jerry Seinfeld's 5-minute bit about how we relate to our things. He even throws in a "Swedish Death Cleaning"-type bit at the end. Enjoy!
Do you love browsing through magazines but hate having old magazines cluttering up your house?
Consider subscribing to Texture.
Called "the Netflix of magazines," Texture is an app that gives you access to hundreds of magazines on your smartphone or tablet for one monthly subscription price. It also allows you to put the magazines on up to 5 devices, so you can share with your whole family.
Enjoy your favorite magazines while cutting the clutter!
Last week, I posted about my love of reading. Based on that post, you might think my bookshelves would be overflowing, but I have some strategies that keep the books from taking over my space.
e-books from the library!)
to return all the books. Designate a special tote bag for library books so you’ll have a
handy way to carry them back and forth as well as a physical reminder to return the
books. Nowadays, libraries give you a printed receipt of the books you’ve checked
out. Keep that in the bag so you can check the list and make sure you’re returning
all the books you borrowed.
be books that you truly love, books that you’ll read again, books that you want to
pass down to your children (be selective!), books that are particularly beautiful
(beloved art books), and books that you use (reference books such as cookbooks
that you actually cook from). Other books, once read, should be considered
consumed and ready to pass along to another reader. Stash books to be donated in
a paper bag by your door and make a note of a handy donation center (like Savers,
Salvation Army, Goodwill, or your local library) that is on your daily route. When the
bag is full, bring it out to your car and to the donation center. If you prefer sharing
books with friends, pass the book along as soon as you have finished it. Another fun
way to redistribute books is through a Little Free Library. Find one in your
neighborhood or start your own.
Shelves of books can look warm and inviting in a home, but over-filled shelves and piles and stacks of books all over the place are just clutter. Books only have value when they are read*, so keep them circulating by passing them along to others who will read them!
*Pick up Roger Duvoisin’s wonderful children’s book Petunia for a gloriously silly way to learn this lesson!
This week, I have another post for you inspired by what I learned from reading The Hoarder in You: How to Live a Happier, Healthier, Uncluttered Life by Dr. Robin Zasio. In a similar fashion to Dr. Zasio’s clarification of the distinctions between a collection and a stockpile, she also outlines the differences between “savers” and “pack rats.”
Of course, anyone who tends to have lots of stuff wants to imagine him/herself a prudent saver, but check out my outline of Dr. Zasio’s ideas to see if you might, in fact, be a pack rat.
You’re a SAVER if…
You might be a PACK RAT if…
Notice that the Pack Rat has lots of vague rationales for keeping things: just in case, it’s a bargain, you never know, can’t hurt, maybe, someday…
The Saver, on the other hand, has plans for the items being kept and rules about when to get rid of items so as not to create a messy space.
Challenge yourself: If you realize you are a Pack Rat, maybe even when it comes to certain types of things or areas of your home, see if you can become a Saver instead.
If you’re struggling with clutter, I recommend you read The Hoarder in You: How to Live a Happier, Healthier, Uncluttered Life by Dr. Robin Zasio. Don’t be scared off by the title, this book is not just for hoarders but for all clutterers great and small.
I just finished the audiobook version – a great way to learn while on the go! Because the author is a doctor of psychology, the book provides great insight into the motivations behind why we hold onto things and get into trouble with clutter.
One part that I found particularly helpful details the difference between a collection and a stockpile. As I see it, a collection is an intentionally curated (and routinely culled) group of like items of value to you. A stockpile, on the other hand, is an accumulated mass of vaguely similar items. The distinction lies both in motivation and in method.
Here’s my synthesis of Dr. Zasio’s distinctions:
with clutter I urge y
Check out Dr. Zasio’s full list on my Pinterest page, “Clutterer Resources.”
Did you discover that you have a stockpile instead of a collection? Multiple stockpiles? If you're ready to start overcoming the clutter that's overtaking your life, drop me a line. I have strategies to help you work through the piles!
Catalogs and magazines can be fun to browse through every now and then, but this innocent-seeming form of entertainment can have cluttering consequences for your home and your mind.
Here’s a list of reasons why I recommend reducing or eliminating your consumption of catalogs and magazines:
Happy New Year!
This year, if you want to resolve to be more organized, you’ll need to start by resolving to get rid of the clutter. Stuff has no hope of staying organized and in its place when there’s just too much of it.
My favorite de-cluttering tool is the 2017 in 2017 Challenge Chart by Rachel Jones of Nourishing Minimalism.
It’s a great visual motivator to help you pare down. Even if you don’t achieve the 2017-item challenge, it’s fun to try and you’ll be amazed to see how much you can de-clutter. If you have kids, let them have fun with it by using different colors to fill in the boxes.
The other tool you’ll need: a disposable box or bag placed near the door of your home that is designated for outgoing items.
Mark it “donate” and whenever you come across something you no longer need, want, or love, toss it into the bag (or into the trash, if it’s not worth donating).
When the bag is full, don’t delay! Put it right into your car and bring it to a donation center, preferably one that’s near your home or on your usual route so you’ll actually go there. Can’t make it to a donation center? Call any one of a number of charities that will schedule a pick up of donations (Salvation Army, Goodwill, Savers, etc.).
Resolve to tame the clutter chaos!
Here’s a fun verse I wrote as a Christmas present to you. Just hum it to the tune of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” And, yes, for the record I sound exactly like Mariah when I’m singing this in my car. ;)
I don’t want a lot for Christmas
This is all I’m asking for
I just want to see this clutter
Make its way out through your door.
I’ll put everything in its place,
Make your home a comfy space.
Make my wish come true,
Let’s organize this Christmas for you!
Even though you probably have a lot to do this week to get ready for Christmas, Hanukkah, or just having the kids home for vacation, please remember to plan some down time into your week. Read a book, have a cup of tea, take a bath, play a game with your family, or get together with friends. Enjoy the time!