What about sentimental items?

When Marie Kondo came on the scene a few years ago, lots of people were talking about her decluttering mantra: “Keep only things that spark joy.” It makes sense. Why hang on to things that aren’t making you happy (or serving a practical purpose in your life)? It seems like a straightforward concept until you get to those boxes in the attic full of childhood toys and memorabilia. The wedding album tucked away in the closet. Your great grandmother’s jewelry, passed down through the generations. Marie’s “joy” principle becomes a little more challenging once items have sentimental meaning attached.

Keepsakes, photographs, family heirlooms, and gifted items are harder for people to let go due to the emotions and memories that go along with them.

Does that mean those things are immune to decluttering? Apologies in advance to anyone who isn’t ready to hear this, but the answer is NO. Just because an item has a happy feeling attached to it doesn’t mean you need to keep it forever. (The same applies to items that have been gifted to you.) Eventually, those items fill up boxes and dusty corners of the basement, only to get looked at once every few years. Sure, you may feel happy when you do decide to take those items out, but are those few moments of joy worth all the wasted space they are occupying?

A few tips for anyone who has trouble letting go of sentimental items:

  • Keep only the things that are really important to you.
  • Take pictures and document the rest. The memories are what often holds meaning, not the physical item itself.
  • Transfer photos/papers to digital files. You can still hang on to them this way, but they won’t take up as much physical space.
  • Donate items to other family members who may want them. (This way, you can still keep things within the family, but can take the responsibility off yourself.)
  • Don’t feel guilty. At the end of the day, it’s just stuff. You are not obligated to hang on to every item that comes across your path. Getting rid of something doesn’t mean you love a person, event, or memory any less.

The Magic of Mindset

Last week I had the pleasure of helping a client get their overly cluttered walk-in closet in order. After day two we had a few large garbage bags of items to discard and several boxes to donate. When we were done, my client pointed out several things on her now-organized shelves and said “Oh, I forgot about those!” It was exciting for her to finally be able to access things that brought her joy and not have them lost among clutter anymore.

You’re probably thinking,“Why didn’t she just get rid of all that extra stuff sooner?”

There are a number of things that hold people back from making changes in their lives, even if they are positive changes. The big one (as was the case with my client) is mindset. You can have the desire, the time, and the resources to do something, but without the right mindset, you’ll never make it happen.

You’re mindset plays a huge role in everything that you do. If you’re constantly telling yourself, “I could never do that,” “I’ll never get it all done,” or “I’m not good/smart/motivated/whatever enough for that,” you’re already setting yourself up for failure. Even just by saying “Oh, I’ll never find the time to organize,” you’ve already convinced yourself that you aren’t capable of doing it, thus making it likely that you’ll never even give it a shot.

This week, I launched a new branch of my business: clutter coaching. There is more to organizing than simply put objects away and keeping your home tidy. Having the right mindset, letting go of the things holding you back, and truly understanding the reason for chronic disorganization are some of the things I want to help my clients work on. Through clutter coaching, we can work on those things together. Creating an entirely new mindset and new (better) habits might be seem daunting, but it will 100% be worth it in the end.

I’m so excited to be sharing this new venture with you all! 🙂


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Budget Organizing Hacks!

Professional organizers hear many different excuses for clients’ clutter and messy habits, but mostly, we hear the same two over and over again: “I don’t have time” and “I can’t afford it.” Since I frequently harp on the subject of creating time (even just fifteen minutes!) to organize, I thought I’d switch gears today.

What do you do when you want to become more organized, but are on a tight budget?

There’s lots you can do! Believe it or not, organizing doesn’t have to be about pretty, expensive baskets and sets of matching bins. With a little creativity, you can come up with all sorts of clever home hacks and dollar store ideas that will make your home feel more put together. Here are a few of my favorite ideas:

  • Command hooks/strips – There is SO much you can do with command hooks/strips: Put a few hooks on the wall to keep your necklaces from tangling or use them to keep cords in place. Stick some hooks on the back of cabinet doors to arrange utensils, pot holders, and dish towels. Put command strips on the back of clothespins to hang recipe cards and spice packets. The possibilities are endless.
  • Wire baskets – Mount cheap wire baskets on the backs of cabinet doors to hold cleaning supplies, cutting boards, mail, and hair styling tools
  • Cheap drawer organizers – Use small, plastic organizers from the dollar store to keep cords, pens, keys, jewelry, cosmetics, and other small items from shifting around in drawers. Silverware organizers are great for this purpose, also!
  • Shoe organizer (over the door) – Those over-the-door shoe organizers are good for more than just shoes! Use them to organize extra towels/linens, medicine cabinet supplies, clothing, and children’s toys.
  • Clothespins – Mount clothespins on wire, with magnets, or command hooks and use them to hang towels, jewelry, photos, mail, hair ties, belts, etc.
  • Mason jars – I love using mason jars in the bathroom for cotton balls, Q-tips, hair ties, etc. They’re also great for storing arts & craft supplies, cords, and dry goods in the pantry (just make sure you get ones that are food safe).

A great place to find cheap organizing supplies is Target. (Anyone else obsessed with Target? lol) Check out some of the cute dollar section trays I spotted at Target recently. These would be great for stashing all kinds of small items around the house!

Stylish Home Organization Tips

Recently, I came across a comment left by someone in a Facebook group that confused me. This particular person said they didn’t want to hire a professional organizer because they don’t want all those “ugly plastic bins” in their home. Clearly, this person needs to scroll through Pinterest more often, for there is an entire world of classy and stylish home organization awaiting them.

One of the many things I love about home organizing is all the fun possibilities! Just as everyone’s home is different and unique, everyone’s organizing style is different and unique, also. There is no reason that your system can’t reflect your personality. Here are some ways you can maintain a chic look while creating a less cluttered life:

  • Matching baskets/fabric bins – Baskets and fabric bins are going to give you a more stylish look than plastic ones. Nowadays, you can find pretty much any color, shape, and size basket on the internet. They even make ones with pretty patterns, like these ones from Target, so you should easily be able to find something that matches the interior of your room.
  • Have a color scheme – Having a color scheme will help things look cohesive and be more aesthetically pleasing. Having tons of different colors will stand out much more and create visual clutter in a room. Personally, I am a big fan of white and neutral colors. Even if when have different types of products, sticking with this color palette still keeps things “clean” looking.
  • Trays – Organizing trays are a nice way to keep items together, while still looking cute and decorative.
  • Open shelving – Utilizing wall space with open shelving is a great way to display your items with style and intention. You can also incorporate decorative pieces or artwork to reflect your personality. Something that I really love about open shelving is that it pretty much forces you to keep things tidy since there are no doors to hide everything. The kitchen is particularly great spot for this type of shelving.
  • Find the right furniture – Find furniture that reflects your personal style and get creative with it! Instead of commercial drawers or shelving units, check vintage stores or find used furniture that you can repurpose. Take the drawers out of an old dresser, add some glass or plywood to make shelves, and paint it a fun color. Voila. You now have a fun kitchen hutch to display your dishes. (Recently, I took an antique magazine rack and turned it into a stand for my house plants.) The options are only as limited as your imagination. Another great option is to find furniture pieces that have hidden storage built into them!

The Weight of Disorganization

Failure. Guilt. Shame. Did you know that these are common feelings among people with super cluttered homes? In a society that encourages rampant consumerism and materialism, areas of our homes can easily become dumping grounds for gadgets, toys, and clothing that we’re pressured into buying. All of that stuff, on top of hectic work schedules and endless hours of parenting, can start to feel incredibly burdensome when we are faced with the dilemma of how to keep it all organized.

As a professional organizer and fellow human being, I understand the overwhelming emotions that can stem from a messy home. I have been a victim of embarrassment, anxiety, and feelings of inadequacy, all because my home wasn’t as clean or tidy as I wanted it to be. And while most of us could probably benefit from learning to cut ourselves some slack, if the same stressor continues to make an appearance and wreak havoc on our emotions, shouldn’t we learn to tackle that, too?

YES.

Change can be daunting, especially if you’re already stressed. However, many people find that once they begin the organizing process those feelings of being overwhelmed start to fade. Organizing will help you regain control of your life by giving you back all the time and energy that gets lost among the clutter. You’ll also gain a greater sense of peace and satisfaction with your surroundings, thus making “home” a place of comfort once again. Don’t you deserve to be happy in your own home?

The answer is YES. Now, let’s make it happen!

One Small Change at a Time

You’ve finally jumped on board: You’re ready to get more organized and stop letting clutter disrupt your life (That’s amazing!), but where do you even begin? I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who feel like a deer in headlights when they finally decide to tackle their messy demons.

The first thing I tell clients is to take it one step at a time. You don’t have to tackle the whole house at once. In fact, I sincerely discourage you from trying to do that. It’ll will only lead you to become even more overwhelmed. The best approach is to take things slow. One room. One drawer, cabinet, or corner at a time.

Here are some easy places you can start:

  • Expired food items (pantry/fridge)
  • Plastic grocery bags
  • Expired/unused medications
  • Chipped dishes, mugs, or glassware
  • Clothing that no longer fits (or hasn’t been worn in 6-12 months)
  • Worn out clothing, blankets, and towels
  • Expired cosmetics
  • Damaged (or neglected) toys

Evaluate what’s in your home and figure out which things are no longer serving you properly. Do they really need to continue taking up space in your?


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Causes of Clutter

Last week I talked a little bit about the steps of organizing on social media. The first step (and most important!) is to simplify, purge, edit, sort, etc. Whichever term you want to use for it, the principle is the same: Pare down the excess. Having extra stuff, that you typically don’t need, makes the rest of the organizing process difficult. Technically, you can organize and store said stuff, but why would you want to? Isn’t the whole point of getting organized to make your life easier and to get rid of the things weighing you down?

After making my post about simplifying, I started to think about the reasons so many people let clutter accumulate in the first place. It’s important for people to understand their behavior and the underlying causes if they want to make true changes in their lives. So, let’s discuss some of the possible causes for all that extra stuff that’s been piling up.

  • Sentimentality – Some people have a hard time letting go of sentimental items. But those drawings your kids made in first grade, the dress you wore on your first date, the tattered cookbooks that belonged to your grandmother add up over time. There’s nothing wrong with having a few keepsakes around if they have personal significance to you, but it’s important to keep them to a minimum and just hang on to those few really special ones.
  • FOMO – “But what if I need it later?” We hear it over and over again. Lots of people hang on to items that they no longer need or use due to fear that they might change their mind later. In this case, a good rule of thumb to follow is this: If you haven’t used/worn it in 6-12 months, it’s not serving an important role in your life and you don’t need it.
  • Being overwhelmed – If you’re battling a lot of clutter, trying to tackle everything at one time can be incredibly overwhelming. For some, those feelings of stress and being overwhelmed can make them feel helpless, so, rather than organize at all, they just put the task off until later. But if it’s stressing you out that much now, is it really going to be different later? Rather than try to organize your entire home at one time, it’s best to start small and chip away at it. Doing a little at a time is better than nothing at all!
  • Fear of change – A lot of people simply hate change! Even if their current system (or lack of) isn’t working, the thought of changing things feels even more daunting.
  • Habits – It’s always easier to continue doing things we’ve done for a long time. It’s instinctual and doesn’t require much effort, right? Once you start creating good habits (like putting your shoes away, rather than leaving them on the floor), they will become just as easy to keep up with.