“Another flashlight!” I announced to my client as I struck a Statue of Liberty pose holding the torch high. She laughed—at my pose and at herself. You see, during the course of our organizing adventure, we were well into double digits on flashlights. They were stashed in every closet, drawer, and shelf, often in multiples.
Sure, flashlights are a good thing to have in case of emergency. I can get on board with having one for every floor or area of the house. Maybe one for every family member. Thing is, this client lived alone in a two-bedroom apartment. She had enough flashlights for the whole building!
I know how it happens. You come across a flashlight and think, “This is useful. I’m always hunting for a flashlight when I need one. I’ll put it somewhere handy.” Then you forget where you’ve put it. At the store, you think, “I wonder if I have enough flashlights,” so you buy another. Before you know it, you are a flashlight pack rat. Just like a squirrel stashing nuts, you have caches of flashlights in every crevice of your home.
Maybe flashlights aren’t your thing. My clients find all kinds of stuff to stash: emery boards, scissors, paperclips, batteries, plastic bags…I could go on.
A place for everything and everything in its place...
It happens predictably every year in the early fall. Is it triggered by the kids going back to school? Or when I notice the sun setting earlier and the air getting cooler?
Whatever the cause, I feel compelled to pare down the excess and spruce up the house, creating a more streamlined, restful space to live in.
“We don’t need this many mugs,” I announce to my husband as I peer critically into the kitchen cupboard, pulling out one with a chip and throwing it into the trash.
That evening, after I toss an extra deck of cards into the donation bag that I keep by the door and tell him that I’d like to repaint the living room, I see a look in his eyes like he’s just figured something out. “Oh,” he observes, “you’re nesting again.”
“Yup!” I laugh, “I do it every fall.” Organizing isn’t just something you do once and it stays that way forever. Things pile up, new things come into the house, and life changes. It’s rituals and routines like this fall clearing that keep me organized.
Clear the space so you can enjoy your place.
(Read on for how-to tips!)
“Did you just pull a broom out of your bag?” my wide-eyed client asked last week as I did a quick sweep under a rug she was discarding.
OK, it’s not a full-size broom, but I do have a mini-dust broom in my bag. No, it’s not a magic bag, even though more than one client has called it my Mary Poppins bag. But it is full of tricks and tools. I like to come to an organizing session prepared to handle any situation you throw at me.
Putting a rectangular bureau drawer organizer (I like Ikea Skubb bins) in the bottom of the bag gave the large inner compartment more structure and created interior divisions. To further organize, I use inexpensive travel jewelry rolls to keep little things contained and easy to find.
Inspired by the Tennis Channel’s Bag Check segments, here’s a rundown of the more noteworthy items in my bag.
“How do I get my kids to clean up their toys?”
“How do I get my family to stop leaving things all over the counters?”
“My kids have too much stuff!”
“How can I declutter when my spouse won’t get rid of anything?”
I hear these laments all the time. Have you ever said them yourself? I’m sure I have! Are you ready to hear my magic words for solving this problem?
STAY IN YOUR LANE!
Or, if you prefer, “Eat off your own plate!” or “Take the plank out of your own eye!” In other words, before you point the finger at others in your household, deal with your own clutter.
One question I always ask a new client is, “Do you think your space has the problem of too much stuff or is it just that things are not properly organized?”
I admit that this is a bit of a trick question because nearly always the answer is “both.” Having too much stuff will always stand between you and organization as you struggle to maneuver around the excess.
Sure, you can file-fold your entire t-shirt collection and just barely manage to cram it all into your dresser drawer, but those shirts will be so jammed together that you’ll struggle to pull one out without others coming with it. Not to mention that your t-shirts will have permanent wrinkles from being so tightly packed. And I’d like to see you maintain your composure while trying to put it back into the drawer!
The middle of winter with the lousy weather and post-holiday lull is such a cozy, indoor time. Not surprisingly, this is why TV consumption peaks in the winter. So... what are you binge-watching this month?
Have you seen my new favorite Netflix find, the BBC’s The Repair Shop? It’s a sweet show that reminds me of if Antiques Roadshow met How It’s Made crossed with The Great British Baking Show. Its charming personalities, beautiful thatched-roof barn, fascinating antiques, and stories of family history make for a “can’t-stop-watching” program!
Let me tempt you with the show’s intro:
“Welcome to The Repair Shop, where much-loved but broken treasures are brought back to life. Furniture restorer, Jay Blades, and a dream team of some of the country's most skilled craftspeople bring their talents to bear on beloved pieces of family history. Utilizing expertise passed down the generations, transforming priceless pieces of family history, the Repair Shop team will resurrect the items, the memories, and the stories behind them.”
According to The Harris Poll, Thanksgiving is Americans’ second favorite holiday (Christmas is #1). Thanksgiving’s popularity may be due in part to the fact that it’s one of the few holidays we celebrate that involves no gifts, not even candy. No gifts equals no wrapping paper to throw out, and no abundance of new stuff to incorporate into the house like at birthdays and Christmas.
In her indispensable, bestselling book Organizing from the Inside Out, organizing and productivity expert Julie Morgenstern introduces her SPACE acronym to define steps of the organizing process.
SPACE stands for Sort, Purge, Assign a Home, Containerize, and Equalize.
My organizing format incorporates the SPACE tasks, while grouping them into phases: Discovery, Take Shape, and Live & Learn. Each phase takes into account the bigger picture of what you wish to accomplish so you can truly organize your home for the life you want.