Life Simplified: Expert Advice on Getting Organized

By Amy Trainum of Style Blueprint

Organization isn’t one of my strong suits … just ask my parents or any of my former roommates. I could care less if my personal belongings are scattered around or in a pile on the floor. Hunting for misplaced items has become routine — I’ve even had to resort to buying a few Tile Mates, which are tiny squares that attach to items like keys and beep to help you find them when they’re hidden. (If you haven’t heard of them, check them out! They are extremely useful and reasonably priced.)
Recently I decided to make a conscious effort to work on my organization and get things in order, except I honestly didn’t know where to start. So I took a guess — and purchased Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. You’ve probably heard of it, as it’s had a lot of hype, which is probably why I fell for it. While I wouldn’t call buying it a big mistake, it was definitely a little overzealous to think I’d be able to emulate Marie’s organizational extremes. As I read the book I was constantly overrun with questions like “I need to talk to my shoes? And fold my socks because they need to rest?” If you’ve read the book, you know what I am talking about. If not, you won’t understand until you’ve read the book. I still can’t explain the theory for the life of me. Instead of feeling encouraged and up for the task of organizing — or as Marie says, “tidying up,” I felt overwhelmed and hesitant. Yet, I refused to give up. Instead, I went to professional organizer (they do exist, thankfully!) in Charlotte, Laurie Martin of Simplicity Organizers, to get her help and am so glad that I did. Laurie broke down the really important aspects of getting organized from where to start, what supplies to purchase, what to keep or get rid of and, most importantly, how to maintain everything once you get it in order.
I’ve found Laurie’s tips and tricks extremely helpful, and I know you will too!

Here’s to getting organized!

Where’s the best place to start when tackling an organization project?

Wherever is causing you the most trouble. If your closet is a mess and driving you crazy, start there. If your children’s things went from barely under control to unmanageable over the holidays, start there. If you’re worried that your tax records for 2016 are scattered to the winds, start in your office. It’s like asking the doctor what’s the best exercise. The right answer is “whichever one you’ll do.” The same is true for organizing.

How do you help clients decide what needs to be tossed or just needs a designated place?

By reminding them of the definition of clutter. Clutter is anything that is unused or unloved, anything that exceeds your storage capacity, and anything that if tossed, can be easily and inexpensively replaced should the need arise. Let go of clutter and find good homes for the keepers.

 

When in doubt remember clutter is anything that is unused or unloved. #teamdeclutter

What are some small daily steps someone can take towards getting organized?

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Digging out of too much stuff won’t happen in a day either. Like any big project, small, sequential steps get the job done. Can you consider a “spending detox” while you dig out of the excess you already own? Stemming the flow of new things into your home will at least keep you at even. Can you commit to filling one bag each day with either recycle, donations or trash? Another way to consider small steps is by vowing to spend 30 minutes each day on de-cluttering. If you live in a family, get all family members on board. By actively participating, they are more invested in the project, and as the old saying goes, “Many hands make light the work.”

What’s the biggest mistake you see people making while trying to get organized? How can it be avoided?

The No. 1 mistake is leaping before looking. It’s important to really think about WHY you’ve gotten into this situation before you strategize HOW to get out. The solution is to think before doing. The doing is very important, but it will be greatly enhanced by doing some soul-searching first.
Filing important papers is something we absolutely dread. What’s the best way to keep everything in order?

A place for everything and everything in its place is a good mantra for papers, especially. If you have a system (whatever system works for you — and letting them live in unruly piles is not a system), it is very easy to put important papers where they are easily accessed. Most people like file folders with clear labels. Put newest papers either in the front or back — consistently. Purge old papers that are no longer active or relevant. Start your new year’s tax file on January 1 so that no tax record is ever “homeless.”

Laurie says it’s important to avoid unruly piles like this.

Once a house or room is organized, what steps are imperative to keeping it that way?

Set a timer, put your cell phone away, play some music, and spend 20 minutes (10 minutes for children) at the end of each day tidying your home. A designated time each evening will start you out on a fresh start for the next day. Daily tidying will prevent hours of organization overhaul. Follow the One In-One Out Rule. If a new toy comes in, an old one needs to go. Ditto with clothes and electronic gadgets. Remember, if an item exceeds the space available to store it, it’s clutter.

Best products someone should have in their home to prep and stay organized?

Label maker, file folders, clear lidded containers, drawer dividers and matching slim-line closet hangers will all make your life easier and neater. But don’t go overboard. And don’t buy supplies until you’ve done the first step in getting organized. Buying organization supplies might be an endorphin rush, but without serious thinking first, these purchases are likely to become more clutter.

Before buying a bunch of organization items, have a plan in place, and get rid of what you don’t need.

Favorite places to shop for organizational products to use in clients’ homes?

The Container Store, Target, Lowe’s and an office supply store. If you can’t find what you need there — consult Google!

 


The Why and How of Order

Clutter comes in many forms- none pretty. We have cluttered homes, calendars, schedules and minds. How to deal with all the clutter and chaos is where many people start. If you’re a shopper, buying matching containers and bins to hold all your things sounds like fun. Hiring a professional organizer seems like the perfect solution for taming too much stuff. With the right supplies and the right talent, the clutter problem will be solved!

Hold on a minute. Buying more things to solve the problem of too many things is an inauspicious start.

A more reasoned starting point is why. Why do I have so much stuff? Am I a recreational shopper? Am I a doormat for family “heirlooms”? Am I keeping up with the Joneses? Am I buying ‘just in case’? There are plenty of whys. And the answers may vary, but one thing is certain. If you don’t explore why, the how will suffer.

At the Cornwell Center’s Learning Connection, Robin’s Rules and Simplicity Organizers connect and you will learn why and how to make 2017 your best and simplest year ever.

The Why and How of Order

Wednesday, Feb. 15
10:30am-12:00pm
The Cornwell Center
FREE- no registration required

Robin’s Rules of Order will help you with why. The principles and practices explained in the book will guide your thinking. Thinking that should precede any doing. The Rules pave the way for Simplicity Organizers to do what they do spectacularly well. The how. These professionals specialize in clearing out the unnecessary to focus on what matters most-creating space, balance and harmony in homes and lives. Simplicity does much more than just purging and organizing stuff. They’re really your partner in ‘life simplified’. You’ve answered the why by considering Robin’s Rules.

The next step is for Simplicity to show you how. That inauspicious start can be the perfect ending!

Why? Robin’s Rules of Order

How? Simplicity Organizers