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 🙂

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:

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 🙂


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 🙂

Need more TIME? Multiply it.


“You cannot solve today’s time management problems,
with yesterday’s time management thinking. What we’ve noticed, is the emergence of a new type of thinker, somebody that we refer to, as a multiplier.”

– Rory Vaden

Have you ever watched a Ted Talk? If not, you should consider it. People from about every field and walk of life share their thoughts on the most interesting subjects. I like to listen to them while I’m in the shower or working by myself. The effect is kind of like one big motivational meme. Something that sparks thinking and encourages you to do great things.

One that I remembered and returned to recently was a talk by self-discipline expert, Rory Vaden, about time. He highlights the fact that prioritizing and other efforts by time management gurus, although helpful, do not– cannot– create more time. We are all always lamenting the fact that there’s only 24 hours in a day. And so, Rory talks about time multipliers. The link for the talk is below, but I’m going to post a few highlights here.

The main idea is that time multipliers judge tasks not only on how important they are, but how long they will be important. Vaden labels this measure, significance. This judgement on how significant something is leads the multiplier to then take action.

One can then decide which things to say “no” to today to make time tomorrow. And as Vader points out, any time you say “yes” to something, you’re saying “no” to everything else anyways. So, multipliers don’t struggle to say “no”. Anything that isn’t going to be significant to you tomorrow, or in the long run comes into question. I recently made a decision to cut out something that I realized was a time investment in an organization that wouldn’t be significant to me in the long run. That’s multiplying time. I can instead invest in something that will have benefits in my “now” and in the future.

The biggest takeaway from the talk is that multipliers invest time today in a way that makes tasks easier and less time consuming tomorrow. The example used is automating bill pay. Taking the time today to set that up in order to save time every month. That yields a better return on your time investment than just paying the bills today.

As Mr. Vader says, “The way that wealthy people think about money is exactly the same way that multipliers think about time. And they give themselves the permission to invest–invest the time and energy to automate the process.”

So, if by now you’re interested in learning how to grow in your productivity, check out the full Ted Talk below! (Then get busy with your math! 😀 )


Coffee + Client= LOVE

This isn’t just any cup of coffee. See that tag? My client made it for me and it’s one item we don’t get rid of. In many ways, they’re family, and after every organizing session, my coffee tag goes back in the cupboard for next time.

This is the second time I’m organizing this entire home, as the floors are being replaced and everything shuffled. I know every inch of it after working here over time, but more importantly I know the hearts inside and they know mine. You see, the work I do isn’t about “the stuff.” That’s just what leads people to call me. But it’s the souls I enjoy working with.

Clients often admit that they’re worried at first that they’ll be judged for their dirt. But as today’s client mentioned, I don’t judge as I’m there to help them make their own decisions.

Oftentimes, I’m a sounding board for issues. Many times I’m asked for advice on topics totally unrelated to organizing. Sometimes, people just need someone…there. There while they let go of an ex or a family member. There when they get excited about a system. There to help them organize for a new job, a new school, a new adventure.

And so to my clients: I love you! Thanks for the deep talks, the new viewpoints of the world, the laughs–for sharing yourselves. Thanks for the coffee ❤

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 🙂

What to do When Your Organizational Systems Fail

For one reason or another, sometimes the very systems that we’ve put into place to keep ourselves in line fall apart. Even my own. Why?

Often it’s that our needs or lifestyle changes. The lists I made on the counter as a stay-at-home mom don’t cut it now that I’m on the go most of the time. Sometimes we change. Technology has really pushed this along. Often I find it’s just that I get numb to doing it the old way. I start to ignore the reminders that once kept me on task.

This is where many lives begin to unravel and the it’s beginning of disorganization for someone who was previously fairly organized. What should be done?

I thought the other day about the original Dr. Atkins and his diet. In his book, he mentioned that if you fall of the wagon, or get tired of the diet at some point, you should switch to another diet– pretty much any other one. Because as much as we would be led to believe that it was the kind of diet that was key, just watching what you being aware and practicing self control is at the center of any program.

Let’s translate that to organizing, which also involves a certain amount of discipline. What happens when your organizational systems stop working for you? You guessed it! Implement new ones.

Find what will work for you now. Do some research, ask a friend what they use, inquire from an organizer to find some new possibilities. This is sure to keep things from getting out of hand, and get you back on track again. After all: new year, new you organizational systems, right? Sounds like you just got permission to blow time on Pinterest! 😉