This is the 5th year I’ve paused at the end of the year to reflect on what I’ve learned as an organizer over the last 12 months. This time around, each observation could stand alone as its own post! Each year I grow as an organizer, and this post helps me to solidify new ways of hearing what clients want, and delivering what they need.Read More
Thank you for all of your positive feedback on my eBook, The Inspired Office: Organize Your Life One Paper at a Time! I’ve heard from many of you who are already implementing what you’ve learned. It contains the true rudiments of my work with clients, just like you, who feel like they should be able to do it on their own, but can’t.Read More
Last week I introduced you to my sister, Tori, who owns The Still Point spas here in Maryland. She brings a unique perspective on the significance (and profound need to) let go during the fall. The creative cycle of the 5 elements, as utilized in all Chinese healing modalities, teaches the natural times to harvest, sit still, let go, and more.Read More
When I decided to become an organizer upon graduating college, it was a gift to have such clarity so young. I was and still am confident that I’m on the right path. When I joined the National Association of Professional Organizers at 21 years old, I was the youngest person in the room, and often asked by peers and prospects if I was still in high school!Read More
Ever frustrated with your lack of space? DaVinci has something to say to make you feel better about it (and yourself):
“Small dwellings discipline the mind, large ones weaken it.”
- Leonardo da Vinci
Wellness runs in the family. I met Nic online, not knowing he was also an acupuncturist, like my sister. Since opening the first Still Point wellness center in Takoma Park 10 years ago, it has become the gold standard to which I (and many others) compare any other wellness center experience.Read More
One change I’ve made since reading The Organized Mind is that I do different tasks in different places, using geography to train my brain to focus on a specific task. When you try to do everything on one computer screen in one chair, nothing gets done. Now, mindless surfing and emails happen at the dining table.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
This week finds me in Cancun, Mexico on an Abraham-Hicks retreat. The morning workshops are led by Esther Hicks a famous author and speaker on the law of attraction. I’ve been following these teachings for about a decade and they have completely transformed my mood, my business, my ability to appreciate and bask in the moment, and so much more.Read More
The podcast that has my attention these days is Presidential. Considering I’m a native Washingtonian who was brought to tears by American history (both by grades and boredom), Presidential is a godsend for me. The political literacy of many of my clients is staggering. It’s hilarious the lengths I go to to avoid political chit-chat, but 14 episodes in, it’s already come in handy whilst chit-chatting over the recycling bin.Read More
I highly doubt Mr. Bowie’s most brilliant thoughts came to him while sitting at a desk, but nevertheless, he too had an office. The mystery of where he found his boldness and inspiration is only surpassed by the question of what did he do sitting in his Eames chair at his desk?Read More
This was going to be the year I broke the chain. I wasn’t going to continue the tradition of my “things I learned about organizing” post simply because I was too busy to pause long enough to reflect on such a fruitful year with clients new and old. Well, last week while driving to my client’s house in the rain, these 8 insights came to me all at once with crystal clarity. At the next stoplight, I grabbed a piece of paper and captured them. Apparently these little stories wanted to be told! I’ve been a professional organizer since 2001, and continue to learn so much each year, gleaning deeper insight into why we struggle with our spaces, and how to transform them with a change in perspective.
Here’s what I learned about organizing in 2015:
1. Rooms in Architectural Digest don’t always look that neat.
This year I had the pleasure of being welcomed into a NYC office that had graced the pages of Architectural Digest just months prior. Much to my surprise, there were things strewn on the desk, huge planning boards leaning against shiny bookcases, and true signs that a hard worker was creating things in there. It wasn’t cluttered, but it was delightfully lived-in! I was beside myself to literally be standing inside an AD page, but even more pleased to see that she too has more important things to do than clear her desk at night.
2. Sometimes you simply need more storage.
Nic, my fiance, moved in on September 1. My goal: seamlessly incorporate him without buying or building any additional storage. This was a lofty, if not arrogant goal. I just couldn’t do it. Week after week we shuffled our things, but still had piles of shoes, clothes, outdoor equipment, books, etc. strewn about. My motto that makes my clients chuckle, “There’s always room for one more thing” just wasn’t the case. There simply was too much to store. I had to admit defeat.
1. We bought a huge vintage pine trunk at a thrift store for Nic’s bulky outdoor equipment and some electronics.
2. My sister gifted me a day with her contractor. I used it to build out storage in my walk-in closet. I can’t recommend floor to ceiling 6” shelves enough! It was a risk. They’re shallow and not adjustable, but allows us to store plenty of items without putting them in boxes. We’re all so accustomed to stacking boxes, but no need with a shallow shelf.
3. People like seeing experts struggle too.
A much more minimal friend recently said, “you’re like the cobbler whose kids have no shoes.” This was during a conversation about a pit-stained shirt that had been sitting on my bedroom floor for six months. My reason for leaving things out is usually the same as yours: it represents an unmade decision. It was one of my favorite pieces of clothing: 100% gauzy cashmere, hand dyed in a vibrant pink and green. Even though it was rendered useless by unsightly pit stains, I couldn’t get rid of it, but knew it couldn’t go back in the closet.
If you have anything “sitting out” in your home, you can relate. This year I learned that I can relate to my clients an readers more than I had preciously realized. My struggle is the same as theirs (albeit, my threshold is a bit lower), and it was time to get real and voice it. The result, my minimalism video series on YouTube.
4. Focusing on what must stay helps to let go of what mustn't.
This year I got called out by someone on YouTube who didn’t agree with how I was letting go of some beautiful, (formerly) sentimental items from my past. She pointed out that I was sitting against a white wall, so my home must be stark and heartless. What I hadn’t made clear in my video was that my home is full of cherished items. Between my fiancé and me, every piece we have tells a story. Giving full appreciation for our unique things (many, one of a kind) and the experiences that brought them about makes it easier to let go of the things that no longer matter - no matter how beautiful. Full house tour coming in 2016!
5. The message behind many of your saved articles is to live better, so stop letting them hold you down.
One of my new clients this year grew leaps and bounds in her journey towards organizing her office and beyond. On day one, she made it clear however that the Oprah magazines will stay. Knowing when to pick my battles, we worked around the stacks. Message understood. On our last session of the year, she said, “Kacy, I’m ready to talk about the Oprahs.” She was right on the edge, so I had to make my case passionately, on the spot. My reply, “Why do we love Oprah so much? Because she teaches us to ‘live our best life.’ A lot of these articles are specifically about letting go, right? So, what would Oprah want you to do? Live your best life by getting rid of her magazines!” DONE. We marched out to the recycling bin together, making Oprah proud.
6. Meditation is the best tool for organizing my thoughts.
I’ve been a regular meditator for a few years now. Sometimes it’s profound, but most of the time it’s not. On average, I feel like my brain has had a shower, and I can take full deep breaths again. I shouldn’t have been surprised when I turned to it one afternoon and was blown away by the immediate results. I had been struggling with starting to plan a talk I have on the calendar. I had set aside a few hours that day to work on it but for the life of me, could not sit down. Afternoon rolled around, and I had nothing to show for it. Feeling crunched for time, I sat myself down to meditate. Twenty minutes later I opened my eyes to crystal clear focus, knowing exactly how to outline the project. In addition, I found a media request in my inbox, as well as resolve to some tricky scheduling issues I was having. Lesson learned: meditate before you feel you have no choice but to.
7. Hold an image as your organizing muse.
Nothing inspires me to live a more beautiful life than my Pinterest feed. Specifically, I’ve discovered some Scandinavian design blogs that I hold as my gold standard for how I want my home (pictured here) to look. I took leaps and bounds this year towards attaining those clean, organic, whitewashed vignettes in every room - though I still have a ways to go. Once you find an image or tightly curated collection of images, ask yourself what exactly you love about that space. What do you see? What do you not see? Be very specific, then be very, very disciplined.
8. Encourage interaction when giving organizing workshops.
It took me dozens of talks over the years to begin to get this right. I knew that the best talks I had attended were heavy on interaction, but didn’t quite know how to execute it myself. I have ways of asking my clients if they already know the answers to their greatest organizing challenges, and they usually do. This year, I had talk attendees write down lists, fill in the blanks, shout out answers and more, resulting in a handful of talks that made me proud.
What did you learn about organizing in 2015? Please share in the comments!
Click below for inspiration from years past:
Yikes. We all know that most of the things in our homes are made in China, but ever wondered about where in China, by whom in China, and how it's made in China? Did you know that the town of Yiwu produces 60% of the world's Christmas decorations in 600 factories? Click here to read an eye opening article about Santa's Real Workshop: The Town in China That Makes the World's Christmas Decorations. I guarantee you, this short read make you think twice about rushing the stores on the 26th for more green and red. Instead, reuse what you have, shop local, decorate with nature, and buy an Inspired Office gift certificate here. *Recipient must be within a 15mi. radius of Silver Spring, MD 20910.*
Last week I had the great pleasure of capturing a fantasy office-scape under the master tutelage of Rockville, MD portrait photographer Tamzin Smith. Tamzin took my portraits over the summer and I couldn’t be happier with them (run, do not walk if you need beautiful new head shots). I knew I needed Tamzin again when I had a “desktop” shot in my head that I couldn’t find in stock photos. The Inspired Office is undergoing an extreme makeover and website de-clutter this winter. She taught a girl to fish, and 275 images later, I’ve captured a soft, luxurious mood that will set the tone for this exciting next phase! Stay tuned.
Some of my clients are particularly interested in how they compare to my other clients. Do we ever wonder though how we compare to celebrities? I think we do, and all too often we assume they don’t share any of our day to day struggles. This is why I laughed out loud when listening to an interview with Kevin Costner on the only thing I ever listen to in the car these days: Tim Ferriss’ podcast. At the very end, around 1:44, Coster rants about how things go lost in his house and how he can’t stand it when his kids always say “it’s in the car.” In his own words: “I hope that people understand that my life is just as cluttered as theirs probably.”
There you have it. Celebrities - they’re just like us. Does this make you feel better? It should! Please share in the comments below. Listen to the full interview here.
I recently ran across this great quote on Tim Ferriss’ blog: “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” – Steve Jobs
Just this morning I was chatting with my yoga teacher about the ups and downs of being self-employed and told him, “It’s not that I need more time, I just need more focus. It’s incredible how much I can accomplish in an hour when I just sit still.” With that fresh in my mind, this week’s newsletter clocked in at about 1.5 hrs total - a record.
Every so often I find something amongst the papers that gives me pause. It’s the hope of finding these gems that makes it so hard for my clients to just "dump it all into the trash,” as many claim they would like to do, but know they can’t. It’s not just overdue bills we’re worried about tossing, but rather the shreds with soul that inspire and reaffirm the goals we are moving towards. My client took a few minutes to read this, her favorite poem, to me. Read Ithaka by C.P. Cavity, a beautiful poem on the journey of life, below. Sure, I could have sent you to a web link on a poetry site, but I think most of you will relate to the wrinkles and stains that give patina to the things that really matter amongst the rubble. Enjoy.