Last week I had the wonderful full-circle moment of working again with my VERY first client. Mike hired me in 2001 when he saw my ad in DC’s City Paper. I had no experience as an organizer, and stated my rates at $25/room and $80/for a whole home. Mike knew a good deal when he saw it and my strategy was to get some “firsts” under my belt.Read More
I can’t wrap my head around the fact that I’ve written 475 blog posts, especially since I absolutely do not consider myself to be a blogger. In 2008 I started sending a weekly newsletter. That first one went out to under 100 people. Nine years later I’m still (sort-of) sending it weekly, but I average over post per week.Read More
My dad is in his late 70s and surprisingly, not getting any younger. To make a very long story very short he was born in Estonia in 1938, fled Soviet occupation as a little boy, and learned English when finally arriving in the US in 1950. He regrets not teaching my sister and me any Estonian and we certainly regret not demanding it! He thought it was a dead language - luckily, it’s not.
Growing up I was around the Estonian language quite a bit, as his mother lived nearby. We’ve been to Estonia as a family twice and naturally he speaks it there. The last trip was in 2013 and I’ve heard nearly no Estonian since. That’s why I was surprised to hear him speaking it a few weeks ago when I walked into my parents’ house. He was on the phone with his distant cousin.
I let my recorder run and ten minutes later, the conversation was captured in Evernote, safe and sound in my “Family” notebook. I simply uploaded the sound file from my iPhone’s Voice Memos app. I also could have recorded it directly into Evernote with their app.
As a little kid, Estonian just sounded like gobbledy gook. Unfortunately, it still does, but I want to always have access to Dad speaking it. Never heard Estonian? (Really, who has?) Listen to my dad’s (supposedly very mundane) conversation in my note here.
Curious to finally learn how to use Evernote? Already a user but want to know all of its tricks? We can do that in-person or virtually.
Professional Organizers’ inboxes are flooded these days with articles on Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show. All that I’ve read are glowing, and deservedly so, but one article a client texted to me this week suggested such an enticing layer to its popularity.Read More
What pleased me as much as the recent announcement of Netflix’s Tidying Up With Marie Kondo was seeing how well-received the show has been with professional organizers. They day after its premier, my NAPO listserv was abuzz with positive reviews.Read More
Years ago I helped a woman who could barely see the floor in her living room, bedrooms, and hallway. While sorting clothes, she shared something as she noticed it was happening.
“Kacy, everything I touch, I want to keep. Everything you touch, I want to let go of. How about you hold everything up as talk it through.”Read More
Given that when printing my set of 2019 workout calendars I realized I was a solid year into a new tracking habit, I thought it was a good time to share again how I use these simple pages. Last January Nic and I started posting the current month’s blank calendar on the fridge to track how often we were working out.Read More
It’s increasingly strange for me to answer the question “How long have you been an organizer?” 17 years in, I’m still learning so much about organizing, human nature, motivation, happiness, and more with each passing year. Sometimes in the moment I know that a certain realization or exchange with a client will be something I'll share here, and other times, it’s not until months later that I jot down the revelation as its significance hits me.Read More
Last week my mom asked me to recycle her old Christmas light strings while I was running errands at Lowe’s. I had never heard of this! I knew that Best Buy takes most electronics, but apparently Lowe’s specifically takes Christmas lights. I just dropped them off at customer service. We need to recycle these for the same reasons we recycle any LED lightbulb.Read More
You may wish you had the carte blanc services of a family member who is a professional organizer, but my poor mom can’t enjoy a glass of wine with me without me starting to dig around and organize something. “Kacy, get your hands outta there!” is commonly heard at my parents’ home (and has been since I was a kid!).Read More
If you’re like about 50% of Americans, you’ll receive unwanted gifts this holiday season. 39% of you will keep those unwanted gifts, and at least 7% of you knowingly gift unwanted gifts! As an organizer, I’ve seen firsthand how the backlog of unwanted gifts creates a great burden of guilt, unnecessary use of precious storage space, not to mention the largely unseen burden on the environment.Read More
If forced to group my clients into just two categories, they would look like this:
A. People who struggle with documents (old and/or new) and to-dos.
B. People who struggle with letting go of articles, tear-outs, magazines, and newspapers.
Both groups come up against a myriad of reasons as to why things are they way they are. Their paper load may ebb and flow, but the needle doesn’t move enough, if at all. They may have spent many hours toiling away at the piles, only to find reasons to keep each paper or magazine that passes through their hands.
Recently though, one client who falls firmly into category “B” nailed why letting go of articles (some from the early 1990s) is such a challenge: “But it’s good information!” Such a succinct reason elicited a succinct reply from a sometimes loquacious organizer.
My reply: “Just because it’s good information doesn’t mean you have to keep it forever.”
In her case, a fair amount of her articles are on interior design. She’s starting to realize that, especially with a major renovation recently behind her, many of the images won’t be useful. She’s had some for so long that they’re dated or the design resources no longer exist. These realizations have caused a lot to go, but many stacks of folders containing magazine tear-outs remain.
Ever since I uttered “Just because it’s good information doesn’t mean you have to keep it forever” a few sessions ago, I’ve asked her to make this her mantra. She’s simmering on it and I just know those recycling bags are going to fill faster and faster - they already did in that session alone. When I’m there, I’m not shy about repeating it out loud. Given that interior design is of such interest to her, she’s realizing that the stacks of old design articles (and articles on other topics such as wellness and retirement) do not fit into her aesthetic that has been so finely honed by this decades-long passion. The articles on beauty are, well…not beautiful.
For years now I’ve told some clients that they can keep something if they have a good reason to - not just any reason - but a good reason. Note that I reserve this for the folks who I know want a strong force in the face of their clutter. (Some just want a gentle nudge.) This has evolved this year into addressing the double-edged sword of “good information.” We live in a time where we are drowning in good information. We buy it. It comes in the mail. We find it online. It lands in our inboxes. I find myself repeating this mantra to myself when I delete good information from my inbox. When great newsletters and invites to juicy webinars pile up in my email, I sometimes just delete delete delete. It’s a fleeting pain.
How good is the information if you’re buried in it? How good is it if you are so overwhelmed by it that you never make time to absorb it, let alone sit in a clutter-free room to enjoy it? How good is it if piles of it are unsightly in your closet, on your floor, or on your desk? How good does it have to be to keep it amidst the barrage of newer, better information that will sure come at you later today? How good is it if you never make time to process it into something that positively affects your life?
I can think of at least three other clients who have been assigned this same mantra since. Will you adopt it next time you hold some “good information” in your hands?
Who’s that crazy person with 6 lists on their refrigerator door? A professional organizer who is about to go to Bali for 3 weeks. I found this video on my phone while organizing photos from our August trip. The closer we got to our trip date, the faster the lists multiplied, though each became essential.Read More
A few weeks ago I shared one of the better, more honest, articles on organizing I had read in a long time. I declutter homes for a living. I hate free stuff. was written for The Washington Post by fellow DC organizer Nicole Anzia.Read More
It’s a joy and a challenge to work with a whip smart client who has tried it all and looks to me for some out-of-the-ordinary advice. I knew she and I would be working on her email last week. She didn’t want someone else to tell her to create more email folders and just reply to things on time.Read More
I declutter homes for a living. I hate free stuff. is one of those articles that leaves me screaming inside “I should have written this!” I didn’t though, so am very happy that DC organizer Nicole Anzia did.Read More
Last week I was organizing with my client in Houston, continuing a system that really excited her from my last visit. Monica has a spacious, beautiful home that, to the casual visitor, looks pretty organized. Lurking behind closed doors though were three rooms that had become repositories for clutter.Read More
In cleaning out my own Evernote this week I found a gem of an article that can no longer be found online (another reason why saving articles to Evernote is superior to bookmarks!).
This one happens to be a tear-out that I photographed while working with a client to thin her newspaper clippings.Read More
If you are a fan of The Onion’s humor and/or have grown children you must take a moment to enjoy Father Still has Complicated Series of File Folders with Grown Son’s Name on Them. This was shared with me by a client who has two grown children, and we started working together when they were still in high school!Read More