...now browsing by tag


Jill’s Story, Behind the Scenes Coaching on De-Cluttering

Friday, March 12th, 2010

You want to soar, stuff gets in the way

You want to soar, stuff gets in the way (neoliminal/Flickr)

Over the last month or so, Jill and I have been emailing back and forth. She shared that she is finally motivated to let go of all the paper she has been storing with her business.  I hope you will be encouraged by her story. I asked Jill if I could share our email correspondence. She was surprised that I thought she could be of help to someone else, but agreed graciously.  I will post her “Before” pictures soon. Jill has promised to show us her “After” pictures when she gets more work done. I think she has come a very long way already!

Hello Martha:

I have enjoyed reading your 60 tips.  Nice to know that I am on the right track and not as bad as I thought!!!

I have my own business as a graphic designer/marketer/printier and I am a paper hoarder.  I save samples of my work, sayings, books, reference materials, magazines, business journals, catalogs, postcards, etc. I have the thought of “just in case”

In my office, I have 5 file cabinets with 15 drawers, book shelves, cabinets, etc.  with these items stored.  I even have the paper piles on the floor in my office which I can’t seem to get through and is driving me crazy….I know it is a bit of OCD. …but I am trying to plow through.

Here is my Serious question:  How do you deal with samples, catalogs, etc.?  I have had them on file for their information and use as photos of an item, like a magnet, shirt, signage, etc.  Do I input all of the info about the catalog/company in a database and pitch the catalogs?  Keep them?  ETC?  I was just trying to make room in my files for other info and to reduce the weight on my floor!

Help!  I could really use your advice.  Thank you so much.


Hi Jill!

I am so glad you found the report helpful.  Yay! You have systems in place already!

It sounds like you have a filing system for your work-related papers. Before I answer your question of  “How do you deal with samples, catalogs, etc?” I want to get a little clarification:

  1. How often do you use what is in the files in your present projects?
  2. Are you able to find what you need when you go to look for it?
  3. Do you replace the old catalogs with the latest version when it comes?

In principle, you probably use only 20% of what you have.  The only trick will be to figure out what that percentage represents in your mix.

I may be able to get some hints from your answers to the questions.

You are brave to ask the questions, Jill.  Kudos!

Martha Clouse
Professional Organizer and Speaker

Click to continue »

Chronic Disorganization: Maria Von Trapp and ADHD?

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Who wouldn’t want to pretend to be Maria from The Sound of Music? It is a fairy tale story of  aloneness to acceptance and love, rags to riches. Did this real life figure truly suffer from ADHD? It is easy to believe from the character of Maria in the movie.

True or not, I was intrigued by the title of the recent article in ADDitude magazine, “My ADHD Story: Maria Von Trapp and Me,”  Zoe Kessler’s comparison of her personal experience with ADHD with the character of Maria as we commonly view her, is food for thought.

Before receiving an ADHD diagnosis, many of us wore other labels — none of them complimentary. Just as the nuns called Maria “as flighty as a feather,” my mother used to beg me to “light somewhere.” My constant movement drove her crazy. I also heard, “you’re giving me a headache,” so I could imagine playing Maria while the sisters call her “a headache,” “a pest,” and “unpredictable as weather.” Piece of cake. I wouldn’t even be acting.

Unflattering labels, lack of understanding, criticism, and resulting low self-esteem are a few of  Zoe’s experiences that parallel Maria’s.

When the captain finally professes his love for Maria, she is befuddled. How could anyone possibly love her? She searches her memory to find something lovable about herself. “Somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good.” Only she can’t think what.

By the time an undiagnosed ADHDer reaches adulthood, her self-esteem is often shot. It’s hard to remember that “something good” among so many failures. Feeling like failures, undiagnosed ADHD adults may hide behind drugs or alcohol, instead of away in a convent.

My response is to want to be more understanding, more accepting of differences in people. I want to give that other person the benefit of the doubt when his/her behavior is puzzling at best and at worst repellingly rude. Thank you, Zoe, for this insightful look into a more common experience than we realize.

“How do you take a cloud and pin it down?” Let’s not do that; we need all the clouds, clowns, angels, and moon beams we can get!

Read the entire article here. You can also sign up to be notified of future ADDitude magazine editions via email on the same page.

Hey! Where’d this mess come from?

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

That is what I asked myself more than once yesterday.  In the morning I gathered some of my favorite storage containers to share at my “Clear the Clutter!” workshop.  That meant emptying stuff onto the floor, in a drawer, in a cupboard, etc.

In the afternoon as I prepared to leave for Panera (yes, teacher and attendees ate in!) I kept finding all these messy drawers.  For a split second, I was thinking, “Hey!…”, then I remembered why things weren’t properly corralled.  I had to sort through other stuff to find what I needed.  I also went to reach for things that were not in the proper place and found… air.  Frustrating!

The experience was a good reminder of just how freeing it is to have homes for my belongings.  That home is more than assigning a drawer or cupboard.  Containers are essential to keep like things separated and easy to spot.

I spent my morning putting things back in order. Whew! Glad to have my neat spaces back!

Do You Have CD?

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

No, I didn’t leave out the “O” in OCD.  CD stands for chronic disorganization.    Judith Kolberg in her book, Conquering Chronic Disorganization, states that a “Yes” answer to all three questions is an indicator of chronic disorganization:

  1. “Has getting organized been a challenge for you most of your adult life?”
  2. “Does being disorganized negatively affect your life in some way every day?”
  3. “Have you tried and failed to get organized by yourself?”1

If you found yourself saying, “That is me!” , remember that doesn’t mean you are flawed.   You are simply wired differently, and the conventional organizing methods that are logic-based do not work well for you.

Click to continue »