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.


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 🙂

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.

How Can Organization get You Out of DEBT?!

Same way your fitbit can help you lose weight 🙂

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/

The Tie Between Clutter and Cash

“I just don’t feel like buying as much,” my client told me today. After editing her entire belongings last winter, she had contacted me again recently. Not because her home had become cluttered again, but because they were redoing the floors in the entire house and they needed help moving things around.

I was told that as we put things back, she’d like to get rid of even more now. I was told that it was such a relief to have a tidy house that she was more careful about purchasing things because she didn’t want to clutter it again. It had been stifling before. I was told that her daughter with ADHD had continued to keep her room clean after I left, not because she liked cleaning per se, but because she notices a significant improvement in her mental health. People experience such an improvement in their overall wellness once things have been decluttered and organized that often they push to keep it so.

You may have heard about the new show on Netflix, Tidying Up, with Organizing Guru, Marie Kondo, the author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying and Spark Joy. Apparently, Goodwill is seeing a surge in donations and so I imagine that people all over are catching on. I read an article today entitled, Is Clutter Also Making You Bad With Money? where the author, Charlotte Cowles, experienced just the phenomenon I mentioned above after following the show’s advice, tidying up, and paring down. And while I’m not specifically recommending this show or Marie’s methods, it is certainly interesting to see the effects and how they parallel the comments I get from my clients. Going thru the purging process definitely makes you think twice before bringing something else in your home that you might be dealing with later.

If you’d like, read here and enjoy 🙂

One Thing Organizers Find in Every House

You’d be surprised…

Long passed away pets, old love letters, and unmentionables, which is why I won’t mention them. Organizers get up close and personal, and we see a lot of things. Pretty much nothing phases us. Unlike a magazine page or Pinterest pin, you actually live in your home and there is evidence of that. We’re all mostly the same and you are totally not being judged in any way.

However, there is something that I come across repeatedly and I want to address it: organizing and/or cleaning supplies. Storage bins and baskets of all sizes, printed out materials about organizing, cleaning liquids of all kinds– often unused or still in packages. One realistic client joked to me as we kept finding these items, “Don’t you love seeing our pitiful attempts at organization?” Again, I don’t judge.

I see these items as a realization that something needed to be done about the mess. However, it also reveals a bigger issue. The thinking that an organizational system or program alone will fix the problem.

For organizational systems to work, there are two other parts that need to be in place.

  1. A reasonable amount of items. You must first edit your clutter. Just buying containers to corral it in new and fancy ways won’t cut it.
  2. Implementation. Let’s face it, these products don’t use themselves. Sometimes you need an organizer to motivate you to tidy up and keep you on track. (Click this to see Why You Need an Organizer!)

My client last night had a binder full with an organizing program she had purchased…we found it underneath the mountain of stuff on her desk. But good for her! She realized she needed help to get the ball rolling and contacted me, and together we had tackled that mess in no time. We recruit professionals of all kinds for their various specialties– maybe an organizer should be your next call!

(PS BONUS! One other thing we always find is a serious overage of pens and pencils. We accept this as a fact of life. I don’t know where they come from exactly but they multiply like bunnies! Don’t worry, everyone has this problem.)

Why You Need An Organizer

What my clients and experience have to say.

 

“I looked at you and knew there was no way to justify keeping those lights I bought to hang in the garage 10 years ago…”brina-blum-612693-unsplash

I’m struggling to write an introduction to this post, because the title is so self-explanatory. In short, sometimes it seems hard for people to try to justify hiring an organizer because some think they should be able to do it for themselves. However, the piles of “stuff” sitting around us usually indicate the contrary. And while it may be possible to do it yourself, sometimes people just need some help. Read on!

  1. Getting started. “I feel so overwhelmed.” Often my client feels paralyzed and doesn’t know where to begin. This is the biggest obstacle we overcome together. After entering a space, an organizer will be able to immediately hone in on a definite starting point and direction for your project.
  2. Community. Why do so many join weight loss programs, health clubs, exercise classes etc? Because there’s accountability, community and support there. Because it’s easier with someone standing by your side. Because you’re not alone. A friend and I were talking about organizing and she said this, “I’m single and sometimes I invite a friend over while I’m cleaning and doing dishes just to have someone to talk to.” There is certainly more joy in feeling that you’re not alone.
  3. Accountability. Piggybacking off of the above, hiring an organizer keeps you on task. This helps you even if you’d like to do some of the work yourself. I often work together with a client and then assign “homework” if they are willing for tasks that are better of done oneself such as paperwork. Knowing that I’ll be coming back is motivating. In fact, just by making the appointment, one client started on much of the work herself before I got there! Having an organizer is essential if you (or your child) struggle with ADHD. We can keep redirecting your focus back to the project on hand.
  4. Experience. Which saves you time and money. I can’t tell you how many clients have previously wasted money on expensive systems that weren’t practical for them. On the other hand, one client asked me, “do you spend all of your free time looking up organizing information?” I smiled 🙂
  5. Impartial decisions. The quote at the top of this article was from a client’s husband. He was on board with her decision to organize the house but didn’t feel he needed me personally. After much of the house had been finished, he was so excited about the results and said, “Ok, I want you to schedule Sarah to come work with me.” We cleaned out the garage and as he mentioned, just having someone there helped him to get real about whether he’d use an item or not.
  6. Resources. Organizers are typically knowledgeable about the best place to obtain or dispose of items. Paper shredding events, paint disposal, places to get the best organizing equipment, new organizing books, apps to help you out–all continuously on our radars.

If you can think of any other great reasons to bring an organizer on board please chime in below!

 

 

Organizing Advice for Creative Types

Know what you get when you mix all the colors together? An icky brown.

khara-woods-80967-unsplash.jpg

After having several clients who are artistically inclined, I’ve learned a few things. The most important being that the artistic mind is so busy creating wonderful things, that eliminating clutter is often not considered amidst creative bursts– it seems unimportant in the moment. However, there comes a time when the artist or musician deems it important; when creativity suddenly feels limited due to untidiness that causes stress and may even be keeping them from finding what they need to make the art they love.

If this is you, I want to first say: Please, let go of the guilt. I see this often, and we need to realize we each are made with different gifts. You bless my life with beauty and song, and I’ll bless yours with organizing it so you can continue with your gifts. Please feel comfortable enlisting the help of a friend or organizer.

Secondly, I want to change the way you see your life and space, and I believe this shift will help you in your efforts. Please consider:

  1. An artist starts with a clean brush and blank canvas. A tattoo artist typically begins with bare skin. A musician begins with a bare staff. Similarly, it helps to keep your space tidy, because…
  2. You love beautiful things. Beautiful music and beautiful colors…why should your eyes be forced to look at anything less than beautiful and pleasing in your every day life?
  3. You know that art and music can be created in a messy, jumbled up way, with dark colors or dark melancholy notes. AND you know that those things are purposely used to elicit a certain response in your audience. A messy room does this to your subconscious. It will wear away at you over time if you don’t change your tune.
  4. You can’t use your favorite brush or colored pencil set if you can’t find it. And looking for things takes time when you could be productive.
  5. Space is finite. A canvas and a sheet of music both have edges and you don’t go beyond those. Similarly, once you’ve filled a space, there’s no where to go but to overlap.
  6. There is a point where art becomes gaudy. A few colors or chords delicately balanced make something wonderful. But mix too many together and you either get icky brown or in the case of music, a song becomes noise. Too many paint layers on a canvas, or writing a notes on top of a totally different song in another key– neither of those would produce a pleasing result.

In short, I hope I’ve made you see your life and your spaces as another outlet for your creativity. Living art, living in art. Time to create a beautiful life.

tim-arterbury-126157-unsplash

 

 

Letting it Go- an organizer’s confession

Something has really been bothering me. Getting under my skin. I can’t believe I’ve put up with it this long. It’s a real irritant, and I’m going to take care of it as soon as I finish this post. What is it? Well, I hope you take a good look at the picture below because it’s soon to be gone. Not the picture but the contents.

HeavyLetThingsGo.jpg

See, that pile of stuff has been sitting in my corner for weeks since I’ve set it aside (the blue bin on the bottom is full as well). I went through my belongings, mostly my closet, and had pulled some things for removal. I don’t often keep things for that long, but there were some pieces that could have sold, so I listed them online. Unfortunately, with the current season upon us, not many used things are selling– only new.

And as it sits there day after day, in my apartment which already feels tighter than usual due to the addition of the Christmas tree, it has eaten away at the peace in my subconscious. Honestly, even the picture was so ugly to me that I had to edit it quite a bit. So today, I’m taking it down to the thrift store and I’m also getting rid of some other belongings I’ve pulled from elsewhere. Am I missing out on money I could have made? (This is often an argument we have with ourselves) Although the items seem somewhat valuable to me, I guess not really. Remember, no one has been interested.

Finally, I think about what this is costing me: emotional equity and space. It has to go.

Now my mind will be free to look on the beauty of my holiday decorations and not on piles of junk.

 

How Much is Your Clutter Costing You?

Hint: It’s way too much.

rawpixel-570908-unsplash.jpg

My second passion besides organization is frugal living. Or maybe it’s my first.

As an organizer, I’m aware of many different kinds of costs associated with clutter, but I began to wonder exactly how much time & money it translates into. I did some digging. It was shocking… I’ll get right to it.

 

Financial Costs

On average, you’re paying about $15 per sq foot of your home per year according to AARP. So, that big bouncy ball from the dollar store that’s been sitting in the corner for 5 years has now cost you $75. Multiply that by everything in your home that’s not regularly used. Woah.

Enter storage units. There are 5 times more storage facilities in the US than there are Starbucks! Let that sink in. According to Forbes, Americans spend more than
$24 BILLION a year for storage. AARP mentioned one widow who rented storage space for three years after she “downsized”. In all she paid over $11,000 to store $1,000 worth of items before paring it down.

A few more:
-late fees for late or unpaid bills you’ve lost
-throwing out food, make-up, and other things that spoil because we couldn’t find them
-REPURCHASING things you know you have but can’t locate

Cost of Time

It’s been reported that over a lifetime, the average person wastes between 1/2 and one year looking for misplaced items.

Additionally, the National Soap and Detergent Association (who knew?!) estimates that decluttering eliminates 40% of all house work. How ’bout that?

Emotional Costs

I can’t say enough here. I’ve experienced:

-Children with ADHD that simply can’t concentrate in their spaces and are overwhelmed
-Spouses who argue and rant about the messes, marriages strained
-Higher stress levels in all family members due to feeling enclosed and lost items

Here is a link to a study that shows how clutter leads to higher cortisol levels and depression rates and lower marital satisfaction. I’ve seen it first hand.

There’s simply a mental angst to spending so much time and money on a home and not being able to move around in it. Lifehack mentions loss of focus and productivity.

 

The Final Verdict?

Many people believe that getting rid of things will be a waste of resources. The truth? It’s costing you more time, money and emotional equity to keep them. Start your organizational journey today!