How to Get the Support You Need While You Declutter (and why you need it in the first place)

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Why is it so important to have support while you're organizing anyway?

At it's worst, decluttering and organizing can be a completely overwhelming and paralyzing experience.

It can be so overwhelming that we avoid it - in favor of just about anything else. Or we organize everything perfectly with the best of intentions to keep it organized - only to get disheartened when everything slides back into chaos. Or we start decluttering marathon - only to loose steam one room in.

But what if organizing your home didn't have to be overwhelming or paralyzing?

What if it could be, sort of, fun? Not like vacation fun - but, at least, enjoyable?

There are three elements to making organizing and decluttering not suck. They are:
1. cheerleading.
2. accountability.
3. clear headedness.

We need cheerleading because at some point in the process, you're going to feel it's all for nothing. Having someone to give us a little pep talk can give us the encouragement we need to keep going can make all the difference between finishing your organizing project or not. Sometimes all we need to keep going is the knowledge that someone is in our corner cheering us on.

We need accountability because at some point in the process, you're going to get distracted, or not want to finish what you started. Sometimes cheerleading isn't enough, and we need someone to stop us from just shoving all our piles of stuff under the bed, or in the closet.

And we clear headedness because at some point in the process, you're going to get so wrapped up in your own head that you can't think straight. Decluttering and organizing can be an intense process, bringing up all sorts of emotional gunk, so sometimes we need someone to keep a clear head while we mourn the single sock that used to make up one half of our favorite pair of socks.

Cheerleading. Accountability. Clear Headedness. This is the clutter busting, organizational trifecta of support, and we all need all 3, at some point in our successful organizing process. They are the forms of organizing support that I provide for my clients, and are the keys to getting the supportive support you need while you declutter & organize your home.

So that's WHY we need support, but HOW to get the support you need?

There are many places you can get the support you need, and who you turn to for support is best determined by you.

Your decluttering & organizing support system could come from:
1. your friends or family.
2. an online community.
3. a book.
4. a method.
5. a movement.
6. even a professional organizer (like me!)

Exactly where you get your support from doesn't matter - no place of support is objectively "better" or "worse" than any other. So get the form (or forms) of support that will work best for you.

As long as you get cheerleading, accountability, and clear headedness, you're good to go!

(If you think a professional organizer might be the right form of support for you, I talk more about the process and how the whole thing works here.)

How to Keep Your Home from Sliding Back into Chaos

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So now that you've decluttered, cleaned, and organized once and for all, we want to make sure your home doesn't slide back into the chaotic state we first began with. There are a couple of tips you can use to keep this from happening. Most of them are those obvious things that we all know we should do, but don't often stick to.

Tips for Keeping Your Home From Sliding Into Chaos:

1. Finish.
Once you start the WHOLE process. It's only when we see our space COMPLETELY organized & decluttered, that we feel the all encompassing joy that will motivate us to keep up with the process.

2. Get rid of what needs to be gotten rid of. 
Take out the trash to be thrown out. Drop off the bags & boxes for donation. Recycle the recycling. Schedule the hazmat pick up. Get the things you want to get rid of out of your space. This is technically part of finishing, but really deserves it's own attention. When we leave things in piles by the door waiting to be thrown out, or dropped off, or picked up, they sometimes have a tendency to get "stuck" on their way out the door. Until it's out of your space, it's still part of your life.

3. Create a home for everything.
When every object we own has it's own home, a place where it belongs, in a location that makes sense to us and our routines, we're far, far more likely to put things back when we're done with them. A home doesn't have to be a pretty little box, but it should be somewhere that make sense for the object it houses.

4. Create a habit of putting things back home.
When we completely transform our spaces, we can completely transform our lives, and so it's a fantastic time to develop a habit of putting things back into their homes when we're finished with them. Having a home that makes sense will help you do what we all know we "should" do when we're finished using something - put it back where it belongs.

5. Let your organizational system evolve with your life.
Your home and organizational system should support your life & schedule, not impose itself. For example, if you find yourself continually not putting something back in it's home, try giving it a new home, maybe that just wasn't the right spot for it. If some part of your space isn't working for you - try something else.

6. A stitch in time saves nine.
And maybe the most important part of making sure our homes don't slide back into chaos is - tackling small organization hiccups before they spiral. Life happens - things get busy at work, it's the holidays, and everyone is sick at once - it's all you can do to keep life happening let alone your home organized. When this happens, it's important to take the five minutes now (rather than the hour next week) to clean off the kitchen counter, or your dresser top, or wherever it is things manage to accumulate. Taking the (small amount of) time now, will save you copious amounts of time in a couple days (or weeks, or months) - and it comes with the added bonus of making the rest of life feel more manageable.

And that's how it's done.

How to keep your home from sliding back into chaos is nothing groundbreaking. Which is sad if you were looking for a miracle cure, and quite comforting if you were looking for something you could actually accomplish. 

Ready to get started? 

When is it time to call in a professional organizer?

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Even though I'm a professional organizer, and love working with clients to make their homes joyful places to live & come home to, I don't believe that absolutely everyone NEEDS a professional organizer to help them. There's plenty of information about how to organized and declutter and clean that's just a search away. Plus many organizational things are basically common sense, and yet, sometimes we all need a little more support and it can be time to call in professional reinforcements.

So, how do you know when it's time to call for reinforcements in your organizational endeavors?

+ if you freeze just thinking about starting.

+ if you've been saying "we'll get started next weekend" for years.

+ if you're so overwhelmed, you can't figure out where to start.

+ if you habitually don't finish.

+ if you've stalled.

+ if you need cheerleading.

+ if you need accountability.

+ if you need clear headedness.

+ if you're at your wits end.

+ if you don't want to go it alone.

If any (or multiple) of those sound like your situation it might be time to call in a professional organizer to help you cut through the mess and the chaos. You want to find someone who's style meshes with yours - someone who's patient and won't judge or make you feel embarrassed. Having someone who can ask the right questions and help you swiftly get to the heart of the chaos certainly helps too.

If it's time to call for reinforcements, schedule a "relief and hope call" so we can start cutting through your chaos right away. 

When you take back your space, you take back your life.

 Photo by  Florian Klauer  on  Unsplash

Is there anything more thrilling than staring at a blank canvas? Is there anything more terrifying?

What about when that blank canvas is your home?

After you've sorted, and questioned, and culled. And tossed, and recycled, and donated. After bags and bags of stuff have left your life. After everything has been put in it's place, and labeled. Everything has it's space. Everything has it's place. Everything is set up. Everything is waiting for you to make the next move.

After you've taken your space back. Then it's your turn.

Organizing your home isn't the ending, it's the beginning.

"The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” -Marie Kondo

When you take back your space, you take back your life, and after you take your life back, it's time to start living it. How do you want to live your life? What will you print on your blank canvas?

Ideas for Displaying Trinkets

So you've gone through all your stuff, sorted everything, held each piece, kept the things that spark joy, and tossed/recycled/donated/sold the rest.

What do you do with the trinkets that spark joy?

Display them of course! Displaying trinkets that spark you for you, lets you decorate your home without cluttering it. Win-Win!

You could… - use tins & things as storage on your desk or in your kitchen. - combine small light trinkets, photos & paper into hanging collages. - gather similar things together on a shelf, mantle or bookcase. - spread them in little joyful groupings throughout the house. - get some shadowbox frames and hang more than just your pictures. - get an antique letterpress tray, hang it, and put smaller trinkets in each compartment.

For more ideas, check out…

Creative tips for displaying collections from decoist.com.

This IKEA hack to make a cool shadow box.

Freepeople has some great ideas for displaying sunglasses, which can be translated to other things.

And then for even more ideas, there's always Pinterest.

Donating vs. Selling - getting rid of the things that don't spark joy.

 Photo by  Jazmin Quaynor  on  Unsplash

When we're decluttering & organizing, getting rid of the things that don't spark joy isn't exactly easy, because what do you do with it?

Do you put things out with the trash? Recycle them? Pass things to friends & relatives? Donate? Sell? Just thinking about what to do is overwhelming! But you haven't actually decluttered until the unwanted objects are out of your life. (Shoving things in a closet doesn't count.)

Some things are obvious - the broken things, you recycle or toss; the things your friends love and want, you pass along to them.

But what about the rest? Donate or sell?

The case for selling: it makes back some of the money you spent buying all the things, and who doesn't appreciate an extra money in their pocket?

The case against selling: it takes a lot of time, and energy - you have to deal with listing, shipping, and lots of trips to the post office.

The case for donating: it gets everything out of the house in a couple trips, if feels good, and there might be a tax write off.

The case against donating: finding organizations to donate to can sometimes be tricky, especially for less common items.

So, which should you choose? Instead of trying to logical it out, try asking "which sparks joy?"

Would you get joy from selling your things and seeing them go to people who very much want what they're getting, acknowledging and being ok with the fact that it might take a little longer to get everything out of the house?

Or would you get more joy in donating the things you no longer want, passing them along to a charity and trusting the things find their way to people who want/need them?

Marie Kondo answered this question in an "Ask Me Anything" on reddit, she says, "I am sure there are several different ways to get rid of books, by selling them or donating them. You should figure out which way sparks joy, makes you happy. If it sparks joy to sell them one-by-one, go for it. But it takes so much time and energy, if it does not spark joy, maybe you can donate them to a library or sell to one organization."

I think it's amazing that the question "does it spark joy?" is so telling, and can be applied to so much more than just deciding what possessions to get rid of and what to keep - it can also clarify how to declutter in a way that works and feels good to you.

How to clean your messy desk, and keep it clean.

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A messy desk is the enemy of productivity - I'm an artist, I know what it's like to need lots of things on your desk while you're working on your projects, but I'm also a professional organizer, and so I also know the power of a clean desk.

Messy desks are often considered a sign of a creative mind - and it's true - having lots of inspiring things around you while you work is bound to spark all sorts of new ideas! At the same time, all those new ideas can distract you from the very idea you sat down to work on.

A messy desk can be inspiring - it can also be cramped, crowded, and distracting.

With a messy desk we're always thinking about "what's the next project," "what else should we be working on."

So lets try a fast & enlightening experiment: working at a completely clear desk.

In 15 minutes, and five steps, let's completely clean your messy desk.

Step 1: Get a box - a sturdy bankers box with a lid is excellent, but any box, or bag, or container will do.

Step 2: Set your timer for 12 minutes. No time for dilly-dallying we want this done!

Step 3: Clear all of the items off the surface of your desk. For now, just put everything in your box. Get the stuff contained and out-of-sight!

Step 4: Put some elbow grease into it and clean the surface of your desk. Make it shine.

Step 5: Only allow your essentials back onto your beautifully clear desk. Can you limit yourself to 3 essentials?

Ok, I just cleared my desk.

Here's what’s left: 1 laptop, 1 clipboard, 1 pen.

Those are the only essentials I need for working on my current project (writing this blog post).

Now that you've cleaned off your messy desk, how does it feel? Spacious? Empty? Do you like it? Or hate it? Do you feel focused? Does it spark joy?

Once you're done with work for the day, take that box of stuff and pick out only what sparks joy. For every item that sparks joy, find a permanent home for it. Now toss or recycle the rest.

Important: From now on, if you want to keep the messy desk at bay - when you finish a project, or when you finish using a tool - put it away! everything should have a home where it lives when it's not in use. 

That will help keep your desk nice an clear - perfect for focusing on the projects you want to be focusing on.

The Importance of Having Support While You Declutter

 Photo by  Paul  on  Unsplash

Photo by Paul on Unsplash

At it's worst, decluttering can be a completely overwhelming and paralyzing experience. But what if it didn't HAVE to be that way?

What if decluttering didn't HAVE to be painful & awful & annoying & boring?

But how could decluttering be anything else? With plenty of support and cheerleading.

Support can come from many places, but the important things that all decluttering support includes are:

1. cheerleading - all of us need cheerleading at some point when we're decluttering, so having someone to give us a little pep talk can give us the encouragement we need to keep going.

2. accountability - sometimes we need someone to stop us from just shoving all our piles under the bed, or in the closet, so having someone to help us keep ourselves accountable in a way that works for us, helps keep us from quitting halfway.

3. clear headedness - decluttering can be an intense process, bringing up all sorts of emotional gunk, so sometimes we need someone to keep a clear head while we mourn the single sock that used to make up one half of our favorite pair of socks.

Cheerleading. Accountability. Clear Headedness. The decluttering support system trifecta.

Where exactly your support comes from, is best determined by you. You could call on your friends, your family, an online community, a book, a method, or even a professional organizer (like me!) - but so long as your support system provides cheerleading, accountably, and clear headedness, you should be good to go.

What do you want your home to feel like?

 Photo by  Jim DiGritz  on  Unsplash

Photo by Jim DiGritz on Unsplash

"Life, is for most of us one long postponement." -Henry Miller

If you close your eyes, and imagine coming home, walking up to your front door, unlocking the lock, opening the door, and stepping inside, what does your entrance-way look like? How does it feel? What do you wish the entrance to your home looked like?

If you were to actually walk into your house right now, what would it look like? What would it feel like?

One final question, what do you wish it felt like when you walked in the door? Imagine it felt peaceful, or inviting, or comfortable. Imagine walking in the door and not feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff, the mess, the clutter, the filled to the brim-ness of it.

"…what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life."Marie Kondo, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up"

No one wants to feel overwhelmed when they come home. But more often than not, we do, and it sucks.

Clutter and overwhelm, unfortunately go hand in hand. When we're overwhelmed, we're less likely to organize, which leads to clutter, which feeds the overwhelm, which leads to more clutter piling up. And pretty soon, there's so much clutter that you have no idea where to start.

Clutter isn't usually the root cause of overwhelm, but certainly doesn't help things, and eventually it becomes a source of overwhelm in and of itself.

Having said that, what if we eliminate clutter, so that it can no longer be a source of overwhelm? And if you could walk into your home and not feel overwhelmed by clutter, what lengths would you go to, to keep it that way?