PROJECT 333

By Simplicity’s Lorin Hamilton

So I was sifting through Netflix looking for something to watch other than Friends or Gilmore Girls, you need a break every now and then, when I came across this documentary on minimalism. I thought the summary looked interesting and decided to give it a try. Among other thought provoking ideas, there was one that stood out in my mind the most. What if I worried less because I have less?

I have always been told it is better to have more because more gives you protection. More gives you more joy. More gives you more financial freedom. More just gives you more everything. But what if having more gives you more worry, gives you more greed, gives you more jealousy or gives you more self-doubt. Is the ability to have more truly better than allowing yourself to have less?

I have been struggling lately with the idea that my life did not turn out exactly how I thought it would, which is an age-old cliché, I know. I guess I thought I would be happier. Or just comfortable with everything I have accomplished up until now. But so far, I feel overwhelmed with this need for having more, which is uncomfortable. I am just living day to day for the hope of getting to that “place” one day. How depressing is that?!

So, what if instead of constantly thinking of what I need to do to get more, I learned to live with less? Would that make me happier? Would that make me appreciate what I have and where I am at this point in life? Would I worry less about money? Would I just worry less in general? Now there’s a thought!

Project 333 is a movement or lifestyle mentioned in the documentary. It is the practice of only wearing 33 items within 3 months, hence 333. So you only have a total of 33 items including shirts, pants, shoes, outwear, and accessories. Underwear, workout clothes and pajamas don’t count toward the 33 item total. Can you imagine having a 11 foot by 11 foot walk-in closet with only 33 things in there?! I mean give me a break. There is no way a woman who works could have enough outfits to wear to work and for casual outings on the weekends to stay within the 33 item rule. However, I am painfully wrong. Tons of women are doing it and are making it work. Many, many Pinterest posts of the 333 capsule wardrobes are there to prove me wrong.

Being inspired by all of these women and the hype, I wanted to see if it would work. I wanted to see if living with less would give me more comfort with the “place” of life I am in. So the following Saturday, I forged my way into Project 333.

At the end of the day, I didn’t quite get to the 33 item total, but I did put more than half of the clothes in my closet in boxes. I also turned my hangers backward, so I would know at the end of 3 months if I really had worn all the items I had left in there.

I feel great! Like a big weight has been lifted. I walk into my closet and it is clean! I have always struggled with keeping my closet tidy, but now it is tidy all the time because hardly anything is in there. I love being able to quickly pick something out to wear in the mornings.
And the strange thing is, I don’t feel the need to get more stuff. I have everything that I could possibly need. Now instead of going shopping, I can go out and have more experiences other than the inside of the mall. The possibilities are endless. And that brings me happiness!

  

By having less, I can finally discover the feeling of being comfortable in the moment and not have those constant thoughts of needing more.

Watch out garage, you’re next!


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  

 

 


What Type Are You?

The idea of personality type has always been intriguing to me. Over the years, I’ve taken several personality tests – Myers-Brigg, Enneagram, Love Languages, etc.  With each test, you can learn a bit more about yourself. Are you a judger? Agreeable? Introverted? Extroverted? Do you like to receive gifts or spend quality time?  The list goes on and on.

carson tate working simply

Recently, I had the opportunity to take a different type of personality test. I was able to learn my “Productivity Style”.  For two days (approximately 20 hours), I attended a two-day implementation boot camp called “Working Simply: Work Smarter, Not Harder”.

Led by expert and author, Carson Tate, the purpose was twofold – to learn more about my own style and how to increase my personal productivity, but also to learn how to detect and identify other people’s styles so that I can help clients not only in their homes but also their lives.

The first morning began with a seemingly innocuous task – use a large blank sheet to describe your productivity in various ways.  Being the prioritizer that I am, my sheet contained bullet points, numbers, straight lines, and I finished first. Apparently, finishing first is a common trait for prioritizers. As I looked around the room waiting for others to finish, I realized immediately the purpose of the task.  With a very short and concise activity, it can become quickly obvious to detect someone’s “type.”

carson tate workshop

From prioritizers (me), to planners (my colleagues), to visualizers and arrangers, we covered the gamut.  I learned that my “prioritizing” style tends to be straightforward and fact reliant (not a big surprise).  We moved on to sequential and organized “planners” and intuitive and big picture “visualizers”. Lastly, we became acquainted with “arrangers”, those who thrive on relationships and like to focus more on people than the process.

The rest of the two day boot camp was an intense study of personal productivity. How do you manage your schedule – on paper or digitally? How do you manage your time – focused or distracted? We learned how to improve communication when considering your audience – how to determine your co-worker’s and client’s productivity style? We even spent time with a tech guru to make our inboxes work for us rather than us working for our inboxes? Do you ever feel like a slave to your inbox? I’m sure I’m not the only one.

All in all, we were able to come away with a toolbox full of ways to increase our own productivity and communication. We also walked away with many resources to help our clients in their lives; from home office organization to simply managing the endless to-do’s of daily life.

On the last day, during the last hour, each attendee was asked to “free-write” for ten minutes on a blank sheet of unlined paper.  My “visualizer” neighbor made a bullet point list…something she had never done before. My “prioritizer” bullet point list from the first day turned into a stream of consciousness memoir of the past two days.  I walked in as a “prioritizer” and walked away more in touch with my inner “visualizer,” a true measure of bootcamp success.

Carson Tate Group pic

Simplicity’s Shyla Hasner, Laurie Martin and Jenna Skaff with Carson Tate.

By Jenna Skaff


Tidying

NY Times recent article, Marie Kondo and the Ruthless War on Stuff 

STUFF

Photo illustration by Christopher Mitchell

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up; The Japanese Art of Decluttering by Marie Kondo has been a NY Times bestseller for months, sparking joy in some and outrage in others.   To say that Marie Kondo is a phenom and her KonMari method of tidying is a sensation is probably an understatement. When the NY Times and Atlantic Monthly are talking about tidying up, we all should be listening. And for that, we can thank Marie Kondo.

Get over thinking that ‘tidying’ is a quick, quaint go with a feather duster and a whiskbroom. It’s deep, transformational work. Whether you take all that Kondo suggests or just parts, it’s unlikely you’ll not glean something of value from some time with Tidying Up.

Magic

Kondo has many admirers- even some professionals. Despite the vitriol expressed by some in NAPO, Simplicity offers this contrarian view. These comments are from Anne and Betsy, two seasoned Simplicity pros.
“The NAPO women seem way too judgmental and critical. There’s room for all types of organizers is this world, maybe even the organizer who’s getting $100 an hour to organize your thoughts.” Betsy

“With all the different personalities and different brain types, we NEED a variety of approaches for our clients.  Their (the organizing pros quoted in the Times piece) attitudes were petty and were drenched with the stench of jealousy, pitiful really.  I don’t know why women are like that.” Anne

“I personally liked her book, even though parts were a bit weird. I would never talk to my belongings. But after reading it I was inspired in several areas like my clothes and books to purge some more.

Her method is extreme, but she will definitely weed out those who just want things organized. She wants to really help free people from their belongings, once and for all. Many people aren’t ready for that, but for those who are, the KonMari method may help.

She sparked joy with me” Betsy

“I do not talk to my belongings. If she wants to talk to her socks, good for her, they are her socks and she can talk to them if she wants.  Me, I’m just tossing them in my drawer or wearing them to get my work out on.” Anne

“I will say that her book has TRULY inspired people and really thrust the professional organizing industry into the limelight, and for that I am so grateful. I have had several clients who talk about how this book has seriously motivated them to take their work with Simplicity to the next level, and for that I am also grateful. I am totally on board with how her approach does truly seek to get to the heart of the matter, which is a matter of the heart.  She is working with her clients to free them from the burden of lack-luster lives packed with meaningless items they hope will give them meaning – it’s madness.” Anne

“Despite working as professional organizer for years, I still struggle with keeping my home organized, Her book gave me a new perspective in many areas and for that it made for a good read for me.” Betsy

“I like her.  I think she’d be super fun to work along side, or put in your pocket and run around with.” Anne

A few snippets from the Times article…

“NAPO women seek to make a client’s life good by organizing their stuff; Kondo, on the other hand, leads with her spiritual mission, to change their lives through magic. ”

“I think the NAPO women have Kondo wrong. She is not one of them, intent on competing for their market share. She is not part of a breed of alpha-organizer “solopreneurs” bent on dominating the world, despite her hashtag. She has more in common with her clients.”

“She leaves room for something that people don’t often give her credit for: that the KonMari method might not be your speed. “I think it’s good to have different types of organizing methods,” she continued, “because my method might not spark joy with some people, but his method might.”

Simplicity hopes you’ll read the full article (any maybe even the book) and see what comes upjoy or outrage or some of both. Don’t let the naysayers put you off “tidying” up.

By Robin Mcoy

 


Mindful Technology

Mindful Tech

“It is not what technology does to us, it is what we do to technology. Used skillfully, it can improve and enhance our lives beyond our wildest imagination. Used unskillfully, it can leave us feeling lonely, isolated, agitated and overwhelmed. Get smart with technology, choose wisely and use it in a way that benefits both you and those around you.” ~Headspace

Ever since a cell phone was first thrust upon me as a young professional in the 90’s, I’ve been somewhat vexed by technology. I resented the thought of 24 hour availability. And, as a 20 something at the time, how could I maintain my aloof nature if I could always be tracked down?

Decades later, I’m slightly less aloof but still maintain a love-hate relationship with the technology that saturates my family’s life. We own “i-everything” it seems, and are far too often in front of or behind a large or small screen. Much of my day is spent online purveying health, nutrition, eco-wellness and spiritual wisdom through our Spunky Avocado website, blog and social media. At the end of the day, everyday, I’ve been finding myself actively squelching the urge to calculate just how much of our precious time as a family had been mindlessly spent on our many devices.

I decided it was time to confront the ugly truth and take a deep, honest look. What I found was that despite all my efforts to get my family out into nature, to travel, to have great experiences and quality time together, we were way out of balance in terms of our collective technology use. It was also clear that in order to make changes to our family’s bad habits, I would first need to address my own. So in an effort to bring it all back to a place that felt balanced and productive, I put on my researcher’s cap and and dug in. Here is what I have found to be most helpful.

Technology

Kelly McGonigal, PhD, a psychologist at Stanford University, helps us identify when technology is having a negative impact and too much control over our life (click here). She suggests that any of the following indicates an unhealthy relationship with your technology:

  • Separation anxiety when you aren’t sure where your phone is.
  • Physical discomfort when you haven’t checked your device in a while.
  • Intimacy with your device. For example: Do you sleep with it? Does it call to you in the middle of the night? Do you check it as soon as you rise in the morning?

If you recognize yourself or a family member here, don’t despair. It certainly hit home with me. But, with some simple and sustained practices, you can adopt a more mindful approach to the use of your technology.

  • Start by taking a serious look at your own tech consumption habits. Pay close attention, be honest and consider these questions: Are you using it in a way that is productive? Is it moving you forward in your life? Do you find that a simple check-in on social media results in an hour of lost time? Does it ever leave you feeling anxious, unsatisfied with your life, or ruminating? Does it leave you with a smile and a feeling of connection? Are you spending money that you regret spending? Is it distracting you from your life and the people you love? Does it keep you from being physically active? Do you feel like it is time well spent?           This purposeful attention to the way your tech time makes you feel will allow you to better evaluate its impact on your life. Instead of allowing yourself to be on device autopilot, you can instead approach technology with mindful awareness.
  • Set your intention, daily, for your technology use and it can become an effective tool in your life rather than a time suck or even, an addiction.
  • Turn off notifications and alarms that aren’t absolutely essential; all those alerts keep us from being in the present moment. Set specific times where check-ins occur and hold yourself to those times. Set an alarm, if necessary.

Further, in an excerpt from Elizabeth Millard’s article Intentional Computing in Experience Life Magazine (click here), she suggests the following 5 techniques for upping your mindfulness game:

  • Breathe when you log on, notice if youre holding your breath. Breathing slowly and evenly releases physical tension and helps you be more restful and alert when you engage with information technology.
  • Take advantage of software that helps you avoid disruptions when you want to focus. Some applications turn off email and chat notifications or block time-wasting websites. Consider apps that can help you be more productive and creative.
  • Programs that keep you on task are great, but youll benefit most from disciplining your mind. Learning to sit and count your breath is a starting point for noticing your tendency to get distracted and for staying on track.
  • Log how much time you spend with your devices each day. If you would like to refine your usage, experiment with different choices communicating in person instead of via email or limiting social media to certain times, for example.
  • Unplugging altogether (for an evening, day, or week) lets you slow down from the fast pace that technology enables. Return from your digital sabbath rested and with a fresh perspective that supports creativity and connection.

Additionally, there are very useful apps which help keep track of how time is spent on devices as well as those that help with mindfulness in general. Headspace is my favorite but here are a few articles that will help you choose the one that is best for you: here , here,  and here.

At the end of the day, I want to know that technology has enriched my life and the life of others through me. I also want to know that I’ve been a good model of healthy tech habits to my kids. Waking up to my own less than perfect practices has been a gift.

You might also enjoy this Spunky post.

 

Sources:

https://experiencelife.com/article/intentional-computing/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-jim-taylor/technology-mindfulness_b_2526737.html

https://bewell.stanford.edu/mindful-use-of-technology

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/get-some-headspace/201307/the-mindful-use-technology


Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things

Thanks to Simplicity, the documentary, Minimalism, was recently screened in Charlotte to a full house. And a full house, or more specifically, an overly full house is exactly what the film was about.  My husband and daughter were my sidekicks for the evening-one, enthusiastic and one a bit reluctant.  But when the lights came up, we all agreed that Minimalism was thought provoking, inspiring and a bit guilt-inducing.

Minimalism

The film documents the two Minimalists’ odyssey.  From more is more, to less is more. From keeping up with the Jones, to charting one’s own path. And from piles of unused stuff, to owning just enough. Their journeys resulted in freedom- financial, emotional and physical.  And their mission now is not to climb the corporate ladder, in the right suit with the right gadgets, but to inspire others to consciously examine what they own and why they own it.  For the movie trailer click here

Less

In the spirit of Simplicity, each of us gives our single most important lesson from the film.

From the 30 year old:

Only hold on to things that bring value to your life.

There isn’t just one template for how to deal with possessions.  Each of us has our own threshold for what is enough and what brings value to our life.  One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. A collection of snow angels might make one person grab a trash bag but for someone else, it could be a treasured and tangible connection to a loved one. And how do you measure the value of something?  Do you use it?  Do you have space for it?  Can you afford the time or money it would take to replace it if you ever decided you needed such a thing?  No matter the value in absolute monetary terms, if the object doesn’t bring value to you, let it go.  Paradoxically, your life will be enriched by having less.

From the 60 something male:

A big change is easier than small one.

As counter-intuitive as this may seem, there is neurobiology supporting it. Often the trigger or nudge is more compelling for a big change than a small one. We evolved as horders. Stockpiling worked in times of scarcity when basic needs were hard to meet but our biology betrays us now.  Biology begets “buyology.  With small changes rather than a sweeping change, there can be a feeling of continual deprivation.  It’s like the addict who needs another hit. And this need for more precludes the feeling of contentment from having the “luxury of enough”.

From the 60 something female:

You think you own your stuff but your stuff really owns you. 

We’re hardwired to feel loss more strongly than we feel gain. Letting go of things is more painful than acquiring them is pleasurable.  We’re wired for dissatisfaction.  Advertising and social media feed that dissatisfaction. Dubious claims of ‘New and Improved’ render the existing version unsatisfactory.  Keeping up with the Jones is exhausting and expensive. We live in a junk culture where ‘more is more’. The cheaper, the better is the lifeblood of mass retailing. We can turn that around when buying fewer things, but better things becomes our habit. Remember the Chinese proverb, “Buy the best and you only weep once”.

Here’s one final thought from the film. You can never get enough of what you don’t really need because what you don’t need, no matter the quantity, will never satisfy.

And lastly, a possible mantra for those on their own minimalist odyssey-

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”  Hans Hofmann, German abstract expressionist 

By Robin McCoy


From a Client’s Perspective

We take confidentiality very seriously in this company, however one of our clients, Cindy, has offered to share her experience of working with Simplicity.   We think you will benefit from her candid perspective of why she chose to contact Simplicity and why she has entrusted us to help her this year.

CindyMills

From a client’s perspective…

I am very grateful for your investment in me and my family. I was transparent and vulnerable because you created a safe place for me to be those things.

As the saying goes, “you sought to understand before being understood.”  And for that, I am thankful this morning.  This will be a journey, I know. But I trust where we are going even if I am a bit sweaty this morning at the notion of learning all of this and realizing how much I have to learn.  But as with life, it will make the destination sweeter.  I also reflected on the fact that through those lean years the Lord created a tender, empathetic heart in you so that you would not only have a thriving business but also be able to help others sort through the chaos to find a simpler life. Nothing ever wasted.

Yesterday, with your recommendation, I bought two open mesh file containers to put under the cabinet so that I can see and access them quickly.  I bought the file sorter you pointed out online as well as two paper trays to serve as my inbox and Ken’s.  I think

Ken has never been happier!!!  His mail is in one place and it is only Friday!!

I am committed to doing my tasks and believing I have to find JOY in the process and enjoy what lies ahead with life resembling a well-designed, well-maintained machine that operates efficiently producing “good works”. Then I will be prepared for what lies ahead as best I can at this stage in my life. This morning it occurred to me that it may prove helpful to journal this journey in case it will encourage someone else down the road. Getting back in the saddle this morning.

Looking forward to all that awaits this year!

Cindy

 

 

 


Coach Approach

Coach Approach

Simplicity is the very first organizing company to send their entire team through a Coach Approach program!  We underwent an intensive and comprehensive 8-week coach training program that has added tremendous value to the services we offer our clients.  Simplicity strengthened our coaching skills through education and leadership by master trainers at Coach Approach.

Week 1-Betsy House

The International Coach Fedration’s website defines coaching as, “Partnering with clients in a thought provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”  The Coach Approach states that “Coaching is not advising, telling, training, showing, organizing, counseling or consulting.  Coaching refers to the bundling of specific, effective communication skills and to a creative and resourceful partnership.”

We entered into the first week with hesitation as to what we were about to embark on, but quickly realized how powerful this program was going to be both personally and professionally.  We practiced new coaching skills in small groups by role playing from a neutral space with no opinions or judgements using self-management skills.

Week 2-Anne Steppe

This week we were challenged to practice our Active Listening Skills.  We made the connection as to why it is powerful to take a brain-based approach to coaching.  During our practice sessions we worked on how to co-create relationships with our clients and how to listen “to” and how to listen “for” what our clients are saying.  We also worked on the skill of endorsing.

Week 3-Shyla Hasner

This week we worked on creating a coaching metaphor to provide us with a self-image that grounds and inspires us as coaches.  Developing our personal metaphor will help us to hold a set of personal intentions to maintain when coaching.

Week 4-Deb Fletcher

We began Week 4 with a clarification of our metaphor exercise.

We deepened our understanding of the “DO” of coaching by learning to listen for self-criticism, contradictions and what is left unsaid. We also added the concept of direct communication by adding the use of powerful questions.

Week 5-Jen Borda

Success (or success in failure) and seeing the value of our learning that leads to meaningful change. AEC – Awareness, Engagement, Completion.  It is important to use “curious accountability,” by checking back with clients on their solution and then brainstorming. We learned how to try to help the client shift their perspective from negative to positive and focusing on how the client brings value (and opportunity).

Week 6-Robin Leonard

In  week 6, we looked at the strategy piece of the coaching puzzle.  The three parts to this segment are Request, Challenge and Champion.  The request aspect is asking the client to complete an action with specific parameters.  The challenge aspect is a super power request.  The champion aspect  is when we are speaking to our client’s future capability.  Each of these components are important to the success of our clients because we are giving them ownership.

Week 7-Katie Puckett

This week we learned about accountability during a coaching session. According to The Coach Approach definition of terms: “Accountability describes the work of the client and coach to support client actions beyond simply identifying and choosing them. As partners, the client and coach agree to learn from the experience of agreeing to, attempting and/or completing these actions”. There are many kinds of accountability. Action (or inaction) is an opportunity for deeper learning coming from a supportive, curious, and neutral environment within the coaching partnership. Accountability should come from the client. Coaching helps the client create accountability within themselves.

Week 8-Betsy Blair

With the completion of 8 weeks of training in Coaching Essentials, in the words of Cam Gott, our instructor, “We are now organizers with coaching skills”.  It’s been a life-changing course.  As a Team, the skills we have learned taking this class will equip us to offer so much more to our clients who are looking to break-free from their stuff and live a more productive life.  Our clients call us for the organizing, but we hope they will stay for the coaching.

Coach Approach Training

 


Good Intentioned Resolutions

The beginning of each new year dawns with good intentions that are much easier to make than to keep. Holiday excesses are fresh in people’s minds. Couple that with a yearning to live more healthy and productive lives, and getting organized becomes tops on many people’s list of resolutions.

So what can you do to enhance your chances of success this year?

1. Be realistic: Remember, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

2. Celebrate small accomplishments: Since “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

3. Ask for help: Because “many hands make light the work.”

Simplicity-New Year

The clutter, chaos and disorganization that you want to conquer wasn’t created overnight and won’t be banished overnight. Your goals should be realistic. Start by making a list of projects you want to tackle. What will be your definition of success? If you have a busy family and work responsibilities outside the home, your success might look very different from that of the retired, empty-nester. Prioritize the organization tasks and projects. Estimate how long each will take. Be sure you have the necessary tools and supplies to do a good job. Remember, anything worth doing is worth doing well. A household that hums is surely a worthy goal.

The hardest part of getting organized is simply getting started. The enormity of the project can sandbag you from the outset. Now that you’ve identified and prioritized your problem areas, try this simple trick. Spend ten minutes filling two trash bags – one with actual trash and one with items for donation. Set a timer and spend only the allotted 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, you’re through until the next day when the exercise is replayed. At the end of a week, deliver the donation bags to your preferred charity and congratulate yourself on the progress you’ve made. The good news is that success breeds success.

When getting organized becomes a family affair, the rate of progress increases exponentially. If everyone played a part in creating the clutter, it seems only fair that everyone should help with the de-cluttering. If your organizational dilemma is overwhelming, outside help makes sense. A professional can provide whatever level of support you desire. Maybe all you need is the road map and a bit of assistance with the start. Maybe you want regular sessions with your organizer to tackle specific projects. Or maybe you want to have the organizational “swat team” descend on your home and not leave until there’s “a place for everything and everything’s in its place.”

Just remember, your home is the center of your family’s universe. With a bit of time and attention, it can be the sanctuary you all crave. If you’ve resolved to really get organized, Simplicity would love to help.

In addition to our tried and true services, we offer a Year of Simplicity program. It incorporates the three steps outlined above. By committing to work on a specific project or problem area each month, you’re setting an achievable goal. Having scheduled a monthly block of time with your Simplicity team member, you’ve already taken that first step – the hardest one – toward an organized household. And finally, an experienced organizer will lighten your load enormously. Working side-by-side, you’ll learn the tricks of the trade so you can maintain the organization you’ve labored so hard to achieve. 


The Clutter Cure

“I recently discovered the secret to livening up even the dullest conversation: Introduce the topic of clutter. Everyone I meet seems to be waging a passionate, private battle against their own stuff, and they perk up as soon as you mention it.” So begins Pamela Druckerman’s NY Times column.

NY Times declutter

It’s an interesting piece (click here).

Here’s her conclusion.

“But the more stuff I shed, the more I realize that we de-clutterers feel besieged by more than just our possessions. We’re also overwhelmed by the intangible detritus of 21st-century life: unreturned emails; unprinted family photos; the ceaseless ticker of other people’s lives on Facebook; the heightened demands of parenting; and the suspicion that we’ll be checking our phones every 15 minutes, forever. I can sit in an empty room, and still get nothing done.

It’s consoling to think that, beneath all these distractions, we’ll discover our shining, authentic selves, or even achieve a state of “mindfulness.” But I doubt it. I’m starting to suspect that the joy of ditching all of our stuff is just as illusory as the joy of acquiring it all was. Less may be more, but it’s still not enough.”

This rather bleak assessment begs the question:  In the humans v. stuff struggle, who is the consumer and who or what is consumed?  And how much worse does “digital clutter” joining our “carbon clutter” make us feel?

Druckerman’s hypothesis that our stuff is consuming us is born out by the proliferation of storage warehouses, organizing services, and garages with nary a car in sight.  With the proliferation of cheap imports and discount retailers, being awash in clutter is no longer just an affliction of the well-heeled.

We think of ourselves as rational beings and in truth, we’re often not so rational.  Dan Arieley,  behavioral economist and author of Predictably Irrational has conducted experiments to prove just how irrational we really are. The take-away message is that we are more pained, psychologically and emotionally in letting go of something (even if it’s something we neither love nor use) than we were pleased to have acquired it in the first place.  Our things have a strangle-hold on us.

So what’s a person to do?

Embrace Will Roger’s First Rule of Holes- “When you’re in one, quit digging.  Consider a “spending de-tox.  Follow the advice of Sarah Lazarovic from, A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy.  Learn to wait.  “Don’t buy anything the first time you see it unless it’s the thing you’ve been searching for all your life and it is flying by on a speeding train, never to be seen again.  Even then, don’t buy it.”  Practice waiting.  What starts out as a hope, will become a habit.   Saying no to impulse purchases will eventually become second nature.  Exercise your will power and it will get stronger.

Stop hiding behind “conscious consumerism”. The goal of consumption used to be to buy and use things to satisfy (mostly) legitimate, practical needs.  Somewhere along the way, consumption morphed into consumerism. The goal of shopping became to kill time, drown our sorrows, keep up “The Jones” or even surpass them!

Again from Lazarovic, “Conscious consumerism is not an excuse to shop.  It may be a fair-trade, organic leg warmer, but if your legs aren’t cold, it’s still a frivolous purchases.”

Remember that just because it’s free doesn’t mean it isn’t without cost.  The kiddy meal prize, the thank you gift for the charity donation, the swag bag from a conference- leave them all behind.  If they never come into your home, you’ll never miss them.  Especially with the holidays approaching, be ruthless about what you let in your door.

By Robin Mcoy