Gretchen Rubin, author of Outer Order, Inner calm: Declutter and Organize to Make More Room for Happiness, was recently interviewed on Good Morning America. It’s a short interview that barely scratches the surface of her new book (of which I’ve only started), but there is a very helpful self-interview question in the accompanying article. On wether or not to keep a piece of clothing Rubin says:Read More
Sorting through curated memories nearly always conjures smiles and storytelling. It’s such a joy walk down memory lane with my clients.
There are two problems though that are common:
Memorabilia is scattered.
Memorabilia has become utterly unruly.
A big thing my clients struggle with is inertia - for all sorts of reasons. What I love about my job is that we not only break it, but sometimes get results like this in 3 hours when it had been put off for YEARS!Read More
So you’ve made some tough cuts and are finally willing to let go of what amounts to staggering tangle of old electronics. Woohoo! This is just part one though.
It’s so easy to just load them into a contractors’ bag and drag them to the curb, especially since there’s something especially liberating about decluttering mystery cords and obsolete gadgetsRead 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
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?
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
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
At the end of every year I compile a list of things I learned about organizing in the previous twelve months. 6 Things I Learned About Organizing in 2017 listed #5 as “Be explicit.” It was last year that I realized I had become much better at this, and that this is what the majority of my clients need from me.Read More
According to consumer psychologists in CNN’s article The life-changing science of photographing your clutter,
"In studies conducted online and in person, we found that participants reported that they would experience less identity loss from donating a cherished item if they had photographed it or preserved the memory of it some other way.”Read More
Without labels, miscellany will surely creep in, rendering the most elegant of containers clutter catch-alls. But, we don’t always want big tacky labels turning our spaces into kindergarten rooms. This is why I often cut little custom labels to place on the top edge of a drawer.Read More
A person who has an affinity for information on paper is more likely than most to have an affinity for real CDs. We all know that there are countless ways to stream music online, but my clients are good at poking holes in all of them.Read More
Everybody has their own special brand of clutter. It may be paper, memorabilia, travel-sized toiletries, a chronically cluttered foyer, an irrational grip on worn out old clothing, or anything in between.
For me, it seems to be the thing that never gets put away.Read More
If you’ve watched my One Thing In, One Thing Out video and are committed to letting go of as much as you bring in, boy have I got a link for you. Give Back Box is an organization that allows you to pack your empty cardboard boxes with donations to send in to your nearest participating Goodwill store - for FREE.Read More
Here in Montgomery County, Maryland we’ve enjoyed unlimited free shredding for years with an organization that recently shut its doors. We’re left to hold our shredding until a random community shred even pops up, shred it ourselves, or pay a fee.Read More
You know you’re in Washington when practically all of your clients have a stash of newspapers with headlines from presidential elections. I saw a surge in these after President Obama was elected, though the collections weren’t at all limited to him.Read More
Leo Babauta recently shared a quote in his post A Simple Declutter Habit: Leave No Trace from Zen monk Shunryu Suzuki:
“When you do something you should burn yourself completely, like a good bonfire,
eaving no trace of yourself.”
This makes me think of the no trace camping signs I see when hiking in the backcountry...Read More
The title of this New York Times article says it all: New Rule: All Purchases Subject to a 7-Day Mental Quarantine. Writer and financial planer Carl Richards says:
"I recommend a stuff quarantine of seven days, particularly if we’re talking about anything that costs more than $50. Anything that you’re considering ought to sit in your head for at least a week…"Read More
Virginia-based Matt Paxton, host of Hoarders is my celebrity organizer crush (tied with Peter Walsh). So when Matt posts something, I read it. Matt recently shared on Facebook an article on excuses to which he contributed. Of the 5 most popular excuses for keeping things we don’t need, #1 was “In case I need them in the future.” Sound familiar?Read More