Gear up for a spring cleaning! 30 Days of Decluttering

Sneak preview! A 30 day decluttering plan– let’s do this!

Your house is cluttered. How do I know? Because most houses are. Even mine sometimes! Besides, you’re here aren’t you?

This is pretty straightforward. I have a printable chart for you if you’d like it, and every day in April, I’ll be addressing one space here on the blog. However, you don’t have to do them in any particular order. I encourage you to look at the tasks and circle the spaces that are driving you the most crazy first.

Feel free to print!

BUT! I do not recommend doing extra large or tedious jobs at the beginning. For instance, save the filing cabinet until later. It’s best to pick things like your pantry, car or your mail stack to begin with. Why? Because they are good short term goals that will make you feel better immediately and encourage you to keep going! In fact, I’ve organized these in order of typical impact– that is, the areas that will improve our every day lives quickly are towards the beginning. Cross them off as you go; it’ll feel GREAT! If you have before and afters, I’d love to see them! Please post to facebook.com/simplysarahorganizing/

One note: as you go thru these, you’ll find random photos, batteries, non-working electronics, and things that should be filed EVERYWHERE! Save these somewhere until you get around to those areas so you don’t get sidetracked. Also: if you’d like, spread this out and do one a week! Just go forward. Even small steps are progress.


I’m only human…confessions of an organizer

I briefly wondered how moisturizing chicken grease was before putting the tender down to wash my hands…

Recently, I listened to a Ted talk about motivation. The speaker had talked to a friend who was known to get up and run every single day for years without fail. When questioned about how he disciplined himself, the simple reply was, “I’m a runner, so I run.”

It seems there is some sort of misplaced awe around people who organize, as if we are super disciplined. The truth is, it’s more inherent. Built-in. I’m an organizer, so I organize.

What this does not mean is that I’m perfect. While naturally I may be put together a little more often than normal, sometimes I’m flying by the seat of my pants. Recently, when getting ready to meet a client, I was running a bit behind, so I made a lunch to eat while getting ready. As I went to put on my make-up, I looked down and I briefly wondered how moisturizing chicken grease was before putting the tender down to wash my hands. Ew.

When I arrived, I had to muse on how different my life probably is as opposed to how people might expect. It’s important for me to highlight this because one of the things people often seem to worry about is being judged by an organizer. Often, clients find themselves trying to explain or justify why they’ve kept something. Most everyone asks the question, “is this the worst you’ve ever seen?” when I first walk in the door. It takes awhile for some to realize I’m not inwardly shuddering at their humanness. I’m just like you, and I’m there to help. Relax πŸ™‚

Till Mess Do Us Part…Dating Advice from Your Organizer

Forget long walks on the beach– can you scrub a floor?!

So this is a little weird, huh? An organizer writing about relationships. But seriously, I have experience. Not just my own, but you know I’ve been in a lot of homes. And reading this blog is could save your sanity, so why not read on?

You know the Hallmark films where some guy comes to a small town, meets a beautiful woman who is his total opposite, and they hate each other at first only to fall in love and live happily ever after? Well, sorry to burst your bubble but it may not be as simple as that. Getting married is like a business deal. That sounds a little cold, I know. Maybe you should stop reading, but you won’t because of what brought you here in the first place. Either:
A. Curiosity or
B. Your spouse (or significant other) is messy OR
C. You’re messy and it’s causing trouble in your relationship.

The first & last ones are not as likely. Either way, read on πŸ™‚

So again, a relationship can be seen like a business transaction. “Now Sarah,” you might be saying, “you’re making this sound like an arranged marriage.” Well, kind of. Except what I’m hoping is that you’ll arrange the kind of relationship you need and want for yourself.

And one of the things to consider is a person’s tolerance for mess as compared to your own. See, realistically we all know that when the honeymoon phase is over, it’s really important to be on the same page as far as raising kids or managing money. Moonlit kisses are not what every day is made of, and it’s life’s responsibilities that often wind up making or braking us. In the same way, we need to look at home-making compatibility.

I say this because you’d be surprised at the trouble I see clutter causing in relationships. This isn’t just my personal and professional experience talking. The smarty-pants folks UCLA did a study which found that clutter was responsible for higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, especially in women. It’s easy to deduce what this does to a relationship. In an article in Psychology Today, family therapist Marilyn Wedge notes that clutter is often both a cause and a symptom of problems in a union.

Although there’s more evidence, again, I’m guessing you’ve landed here because you have all the evidence you need. So now, what to do?

If you aren’t yet married or pledged for life:
– It’s a really good idea to talk about who is going to be expected to do what.
-Consider how your tolerance for mess lines up with your future partner. There’s no set perfect level, low or high, It’s just better if it’s similar. I once dated a guy who’s kitchen consistently looked like Cookie Monster ate there. Seriously, I had no idea how it was possible to be that messy…
-If you’re mismatched in this area, consider how much you can compromise. If this is the only “con”, and your partner is otherwise awesome, it may be worth giving in a bit.

If you are already married or attached:
-A housekeeper or organizer is less expensive than counseling or a divorce. Just sayin’.
-Try to figure out what would help the less tidy person. Some people need things to be organized by practicality, and some like things beautiful (color-coded for example).
-If your significant other is just too busy, it could help to try to take some other things off of their plate.
-Look out for the emotional and physical well-being of your partner. Problems in either of these areas can be a cause of physical clutter.
-Remember to compromise and have grace. We all need it.

Senior Downsizing Guide

Senior downsizing has been a buzzword around me lately. The 55+ population is growing but they need to shrink their lifestyles to accommodate their new way of living. Whether they just want a more carefree way of living and plan to travel, want less to take care of, or are moving into a different space that won’t hold everything– decisions have to be made. While we’re often sentimental about our belonging, this process requires some serious thought and it may be worth automating a bit.

I’ve always found guides helpful and so I’ve included one below. A caveat: this has more to do with “stuff” than clothing, so if you’re needing a wardrobe editing guide, you may want to see this list from Dr. Oz. https://s.doctoroz.com/Clean-Out-One-Sheet.jpg
For everything else, see below!

A few other tips:
1. Don’t wait until this has to be done in a crunch. It takes time to go through and let go of things. Trying to get this done over a couple of days may cause relocation stress.
2. If there are a few things you know will be meaningless to anyone else, but they are dear to you and you’d like to keep them, author Margareta Magnusson suggests putting them in a box marked in a way that loved ones know they can feel comfortable disposing of it later. Examples would be letters from a dear friend or past love.
3. Hire an organizer or have a friend help! It’s nice to have company and friendship with this process, and it helps to have an unbiased third party.

If you’d like to have a full downloadable word document, click here:

How Can Organization get You Out of DEBT?!

Same way your fitbit can help you lose weight πŸ™‚

If you’ve been following my blog, you know I’m also trained in business and finance– it’s my second love. What you may not realize is how getting organized can help you with your finances. How?

  1. Organizing your bills and receipts helps you manage income and outflow. I can even help to set you up on a financial app and create a budget! and…
  2. In the same way that keeping tabs of diet and exercise help you lose weight, knowing where your money is going helps to keep spending on track. Watching your funds will prevent needless purchases and make your money work for you.
  3. Once you’ve decluttered and tidied up the rest of your space, you’ll be very choosy about what’s allowed back in. Often my clients report a lack of desire to shop and reclutter their homes after they feel how nice it is to be organized. Automatic savings!

So if you’re in need of a coach to help you build up an emergency fund, make a spending plan and sort out the paper clutter on your desk, give me a call! 720.984.1092

ADHD and Clutter

The key to tidying up your home could be addressing ADHD

Most people probably assume that the tie between ADHD and clutter is just that people can’t concentrate enough to clean up. Not so. In fact, I’ve seen ADHD clients do very well at tidying up at times due to periods of hyperfocus, which they also experience. However, there’s a bigger issue that needs to be addressed. Impulse control and buying.

Often, those who haven’t researched ADHD don’t know that overspending is actually a symptom. But if you stop to think about it, you can easily see how it falls into the spectrum of issues. Impulse control is one issue, and the other is the aforementioned hyperfocus that sometimes happens– getting really excited about something and purchasing multiple items relating to that. My clients have reported both. Unfortunately, this often causes problems in their relationships as well. The clutter and the financial issues both cause a strain.

Fortunately, I’ve found a combination of learning, working with an organizer, and sometimes medication to manage ADHD to be very helpful. In fact, I was recently working with a client who has come such a long way. Feeling the chaos of the day, instead of feeling the impulse to clutter or buy, she realized that the physical act of decluttering and managing her things was just what she needed and we dug in. No longer feeling the urge to buy, her and her daughter who also has ADHD have realized that organizing has been a huge key to mental peace.

If this is something you’d like help with, I hope you’ll give me a call! For more information on this topic, you can check out this article here from ADDitude magazine: https://www.additudemag.com/how-can-i-stop-buying-things-on-impulse/

When a loved one passes…what to keep

β€œThe past beats inside me like a second heart.”
― John Banville, The Sea

Something I see often is the anguish of a relative who feels burdened by the volume of things left to them by a loved one, and yet they belabor over the decision whether to part with them. The feeling is a sort of longing, but it seems to be mixed with guilt, as if getting rid of something is somehow an act of betrayal. Or losing the person even more, if that was possible.

To begin with, if this is you, you can turn the tide right now by taking a good look at your belongings and getting rid of anything that doesn’t mean much to you. This will help anyone who inherits your world.

And to those trying to decide what to keep, let me offer this guide:

Can you use it?
Really, if you keep something but it stays in a box for the next 30 years, you really don’t have it. Try to keep things that can be used, displayed and enjoyed to keep your loved one’s memory alive and in front of you.

Some examples of things I’ve kept:
-an old avocado green GE clock that hung on grandma’s kitchen wall for years. It finds a place in my every home, and it’s currently telling time in my laundry room.
-a sewing box from my other grandma. It too was a green color, but a yucky one. I painted it white and display it, and use it. I kept her tomato pincushion in there, some lace, and some other findings that remind me of her, always sewing something.
-jewelry pieces that have been passed down from various family members. Not only do I keep them, but I wear them, and feel close to my loved ones.

Next up: was it quintessentially “them”?
There’s no need to keep the kleenex cozy from the back bedroom just because it was in their house. Think of the things that really defined them. A favorite book from their collection with their notes in it, maybe. Grandpa’s gardening spade. Poetry they wrote.

What about pictures?
If you don’t know who the people are, find a relative who might and ask them to explain the pictures or write names and maybe approximate dates on the backs. If they don’t know either, there’s no use in keeping them.

A final word, your relatives would not want to be a burden. Keep a few things that add to your life, and let go of the guilt of letting go of everything else. Additionally, sometimes it’s hard at first. Give yourself permission to hold onto things for a little while, but also give yourself permission to pass them on later.

Just how tiny IS a tiny house?

“Living smaller is a relief.” ~Margareta Magnusson

Americans are downsizing. Well some are. Others aren’t “supersizing” to begin with. I’ve seen my profession grow alongside an overall trend towards having less. This also includes the tiny home movement, which has captivated the US.

So I headed down to see Ryan McCue, Scott Updegraff, and Hero the dog at Tiny Home Connection in Lakewood, Colorado to learn about these mini dwellings. Here’s what I found out!

What happens at Tiny Home Connection?
If you’d like to build your own Tiny Home, you can come put it together on their property. While there, you can get expert advice with their consulting services if needed. If you need some of the work done for you, they’ll hook you up! Maybe you just want it built for you? Of course!

How big small is the average tiny home?
The original tiny homes are just over 200 sq. ft. However, the guys have found that the sweet spot for most people is between 400 and 600 sq. ft. Hey– that’s bigger than my first apartment!

Who is moving into these units?
Older adults who have decided that the Joneses have too much and they don’t care to keep up with them. People who want freedom of time (taking care of a big house takes work!) and freedom in their finances (read this article to see how much a big home costs to store your stuff!)
Also, Millennials who have decided to depart from the spending habits of the previous generations. Many are graduating college with a lot of debt and don’t want more. Surveys show that they’d rather spend the money they have on experiences instead of material items. Without much “stuff” they are also better able to be more transient. Basically, people who want “the simple life” according to Ryan.

Why a tiny house?
Besides freedom of time and money as mentioned above, there’s also closeness. Families build a bond due to living in close proximity with one another.

Are you interested yet? If so, give the boys a ring or check out their site or Facebook page. Also, they are planning meetups in the future so maybe you want to get on their list to come find out more! (I can’t give any deets yet, but it sounds like they plan to have some cool stuff going on down there!)

If you’re not quite sold on the idea of a tiny house yet, check out this article on “smaller houses” from Forbes. And if you just like the idea of living simply wherever your at, give me a call πŸ™‚


The Tale of Two Waters and A Wise Woman

Learning to let things flow through your life.

I’m working with a wonderfully creative woman right now. In her 80’s, no one can say she’s wasted her time. She’s excelled at about every form of art there is, and currently she is learning to paint– one thing she is determined to do before she “goes on”, as she puts it. We’ve also come across many books on short stories because writing is another new endeavor.

To make room for her current creativity, we’re letting go of some of the past. Not important things, no. Those things are displayed all around. Instead we’re sorting thru partially finished quilts and other projects. Some, she is delighted to find, and we store them in sight to be completed later. Others, she looks at realistically and declares that there’s not enough time so they have no chance of being finished by her hands. Also, materials such as fabrics she has stopped using, go now as she favors hand-dyed cloths over the usual cottons. How she decides which ones stay and which go is mysterious to me, but she definitely knows, and I package them up to be passed to someone who will be elated to have them. The items will go to other crafters and artists, some to be made for charities.

I smile at her. “You know how to allow things to flow through your life: Two bodies of water in the Middle East, the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, are connected, but vastly different. The Jordan has water that flows in and then out of it. It’s teaming with life and the banks are fertile. But at the end, it empties into the Dead Sea. Nothing flows out of the Dead Sea. It’s stagnant, and nothing can live in there. But you are like like the Jordan.”

All of these things will be passed on to someone who will use them, and she’ll be here, living out her creativity in the space we’ve now opened up. It’s a colorful life πŸ™‚

Am I going to MARIE KONDO you?!

Well, I mean…did you want me to?

Recently I was chatting with a client who hadn’t heard the buzz from the new show. When I mentioned that the thrift stores are being overwhelmed due to Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, she questioned me about it. I told her about how the adorable little Japanese organizer bounces into a house, encouraging the inhabitants to keep only things that “spark joy”. Clothes that are kept are folded origami style, real small, and tucked away. Everything else goes, but not until you thank items for their service.

“She has a rule, no more than 30 books,” I remarked casually. My client snapped to attention, “well you know that wouldn’t work for me.” Yes, yes I did. Which is why I’d never expect that of her.

So, if you’re thinking that by the time I’m finished with you, your place will be as bare as the picture above, the answer would be: that’s up to you! While working with clients, I go with the natural flow of things. And while I may be a non-bias party that can help decide if you should get rid of something, you’re always the final word. Sometimes I’ll ask questions to help you decide. I won’t argue with clients about something they want to keep, not even an old tattered shirt, especially if they’ve been doing great with the editing process. My client above has purged all sorts of things and has ample room to keep books.

And while the KonMari method is great for some, it may not be for others. So, the question is: what do we need to do to make you feel comfortable in your space?